FORT MYERS, Fla. – Living through nine minor-league teams with four organizations, two trades and one waiver claim over eight years has taught Colt Hynes to be careful trying to read the tea leaves.
But the 29-year-old left-hander heard through the grapevine that things looked good for him with the Toronto Blue Jays, so before he learned Wednesday morning that he’ll officially break camp with a big-league team for the first time, he felt confident enough to tell his parents good news might be coming.
“They were like, ‘Hey, you know how baseball is, things change,’” he said with a smile.
Things didn’t change, Hynes learning of his fate before the Blue Jays boarded a bus for the two-hour ride to JetBlue Park at Fenway South for the Florida finale against the Boston Red Sox. Todd Redmond was also told he’s on the team, with righty Liam Hendriks and infielder Ryan Goins up for the final spot.
Hendriks is out of options while Goins is not, and the Blue Jays may very well break camp with Hendriks and try to sneak him through waivers later on.
“It’s not easy but we’ve talked to him and laid it out,” manager John Gibbons said of Goins. “If we do start with eight, we don’t want to go long with eight but if that’s the way we start it could be a few days in when we flip that as well. He deserves to be on the team, he’s going to be very valuable to us. It just may not be the first day; it may be a few days in.”
Hynes, a 31st round pick in 2007 by the Padres who has thrown 12 shutout innings and allowed only three hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts this spring, knows all about agonizing waits.
“It’s hard to not play GM,” he said. “As you’re around long enough and play long enough, you learn that’s not a healthy mindset to have, whether it’s positive for you or negative for you. At the end of the day, no matter what team you’re on, you still have to pitch to get where you want to be. It’s definitely hard, but that’s the mental discipline side of it to block all that out and stay focused on your job.”
Hynes’ only previous big-league experience came in 2013 with the Padres, when he posted a 9.00 ERA in 22 games. The Padres sold him to Cleveland in October of 2013, the Indians traded him to the Dodgers last April and the Blue Jays claimed him off waivers on Aug. 13.
To him, that was a sign they were interested.
“There’s two weeks left in minor-league season and I thought, ‘Is this really a good time to be on waivers?’ So I was just thankful to get picked up and finish strong,” he said. “I didn’t expect to get called up (in September), I’d only been here for two weeks or whatever it was, but after going through the off-season and staying on the roster, not getting designated or traded, it was like, ‘OK, maybe there’s going to be some room here … maybe there’s someone there that wants to see me do something.’”
Upon hearing the news Wednesday morning, Hynes reflected on all the places he’s played, teammates he’s suited up with, his success and failures, experiences. “You’re thankful for those because they mould you into who you are and essentially make you stronger if you handle them the right way.”
“I would never at any time think that I was going to quit, they were going to have to rip the jersey off my back, but there are definitely times when I’ve had my back against the wall and been like, ‘This might be it, you may not get a chance to play anymore,’” said Hynes. “My first full season actually, I was in the Midwest League and I had a (4.60) ERA as a reliever and I was like, ‘That’s obviously not getting the job done.’ That was a big off-season. Even last off-season, after bouncing around with three different clubs, there’s that doubt that creeps into your mind, ‘Is it because there’s no opportunity, is it because I’m not good enough?’ So there are definitely times when you have a gut check and you need to figure something out and get better, or find something to do.”
That he’s done and now he’ll open the season at Yankee Stadium on Monday.
“It’s going to be awesome, I can’t wait,” he said. “I’m very thankful.”