Danny Jansen rejoins Blue Jays with plans to keep his hands ‘padded up now’

Danny Jansen of the Toronto Blue Jays. (AP)

TORONTO – The day after an errant heater from Pittsburgh Pirates righty Carmen Mlodzinski fractured the pisiform bone in Danny Jansen’s right wrist March 13, the Toronto Blue Jays catcher and the training staff discussed how to safeguard his oft-injured hands. 

Jansen has long found hand guards uncomfortable and loathes batting gloves, but new customizable options offered padding that could help. One thing he didn’t mind, though, was wearing a neoprene wrist cuff, which essentially felt like a sweatband. That prompted Voon Chong, the club’s first assistant athletic trainer, to wonder about adding some G-Form padding onto the cuff and before long “we threw on some G-Form stuff there, sent it over to (the manufacturer) and they ironed it on,” said Jansen, who believes they’ve found a solution he’s long sought.

“It’s been great,” he continued Monday, after the Blue Jays activated him from the injured list. “I’m going to wear guards on both hands and have protection, that’s kind of where I’m at. I’ve got to do it. Happy to do it. I don’t really want to change my swing. I’ve just got to be padded up now.”

Jansen’s hands have been through a lot. He broke his left pisiform during his senior year of high school in 2013. In 2015, an opponent’s backswing broke his left hand. The year after, he had surgery on the hamate bone in his left hand. In 2022, he fractured the fifth metacarpal in his left hand. Last year, he fractured his right middle finger after he’d been hit by seven pitches in a span of 15 games over 27 days in August, three of them off the hand, one off the wrist and another off the forearm. 

The new guard for his right hand, described by manager John Schneider as “a little superhero-ish,” will be worn all game, padding shifted to the appropriate areas for when he’s at or behind the plate.

“I didn’t really want to take something off and on all the time, so I turn it a little bit so it has this protection here (for the side of the hand) along where I got hit. I can kind of vary how it sits,” Jansen explained. “I’ve gotten really comfortable with it on always. And then when I catch I can turn it and it doesn’t really affect anything throwing. I’ve thrown with it for quite a while now. I’ve got the left hand-guard, of course and I’m not going to change much, just going to re-pad and get back in there.”

The Blue Jays have missed the entire package of skills Jansen provides, although his slug may have lacked most.

He homered in his first of four rehab games with triple-A Buffalo last week – “That was nice,” he said with a grin – and felt like “I really got over the hump the last week” in feeling strong with his wrist.

“I understand that there might still be some cranky times, but I’m going to continue working and continue doing treatment before and after to build it up,” Jansen said. “I did a lot of work, when I wasn’t really doing much activity baseball-wise, with my lower half. So I feel like I’m in a good spot, too, just overall conditioning-wise. And I just wanted some reps behind the plate when I was down there rehabbing, so I got just that. I feel as prepared as I can be and am excited to be in a game.”

Jansen will make his first start of the season Tuesday against the New York Yankees, catching Yusei Kikuchi, with Alejandro Kirk catching Wednesday’s get-away day finale. After that, Schneider said the catching duties will be “similar to what we’ve done in the past … “pretty evenly split.”

The Blue Jays need Jansen to hit the ground running given their sporadic offensive output thus far and after he reached in five of his 14 plate appearances with the Bisons, he feels ready to do just that after finding some rhythm on rehab.

“It’s about seeing different pitches,” he explained. “You can do all the training, I did a lot of velo machine as I was building up and some spin as well, but in a game you get all these different arm angles, as well. And then just the competitive nature of being an in an at-bat and the mindset and the plan that you have there, too. I was trying to think with the at-bat, hunting certain pitches, that’s a big one to get back. Timing was huge, as well, and that’s how I was kind of basing how they at-bats went, in a way, not really results. More of how I felt as far as comfort right there in the box. I felt pretty good kind of early on and then as the rehab went on, as far as the games.”

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.