SCRAP THE FLAP
Ever since ditched his funky helmet, he has been the Bringer of Rain of old
A few weeks ago, after appearing at the plate with a protective flap attached to his batting helmet, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson was asked what the deal was with the new piece of equipment.
Donaldson seemed a bit peeved. He said that when a player constantly sees pitches coming at him that are high and inside, you have to take measures to protect yourself.
So, for a few games, he wore the flap. Then he took it off, then he put it on, and now it’s off again.
And guess what? Donaldson has been hitting the leather off the ball recently and it appears that the flap is gone for good. He has decided he’ll give up more protection for more production.
The Bringer of Rain has hit home runs in three straight games and four in his past six after hitting two total in his previous 39 games. He also walked twice on Wednesday in Toronto’s 5-1 victory over the White Sox and has drawn 22 walks since the start of July. He has drawn 16 of those free passes against starters, the most in the Major Leagues.
“Just staying disciplined to my plan and really grinding out at-bats,” Donaldson said when asked about his recent string of walks. “There’s been several times where I got down to 0-2 and was able to grind it out and walk out of that, and that’s a win for me. And really just going up there and focusing on having real good at-bats.”
Obviously, the Jays need the Donaldson of old to have any chance of snagging a wild-card spot, as slim as that may be. That’s one of the reasons he decided to get rid of the flap.
“You know, I thought there was a couple of times when I had it on there, it was blocking me out of a couple of pitches or I was having to turn my head in a certain manner in order to get a good look at the pitcher,” Donaldson said.
“I tried to make some adjustments on it. It really wasn’t working as far as Josh Donaldson says his helmet with the flap was causing him to miss some pitches. moving the flap down. So I was just like, ‘To heck with it. I’m just going to get my other helmet and go from there.’ “Some pitchers who were throwing kind of across their body that’s outside the normal lane that you have to look in,” explained Donaldson, when asked to elaborate on what pitches he was missing. “It was making it difficult for me because I feel was having to almost look around it at times.”
Give him credit. Donaldson obviously felt too many pitches were coming toward his head that he decided to wear a flap. But his drive to produce at the plate and help the team has overridden safety concerns.
Donaldson also made some great defensive plays this week at Guaranteed Rate Field, including a couple of bare-handed snares followed by hard throws to first for outs, another part of his game he’s been working to improve. Following last month’s all-star break, the Jays embarked on a 10-day road trip before finally returning home on July 24.
“I was able to put in some work when we got back to Toronto,” said Donaldson. “We went on a 10-day road trip and it’s difficult to get appropriate work that we need because we’re on the road and it’s not our field. That being said, I felt that getting some extra work, some early work out there and really focussing on the defence really helped.
“And (Justin) Smoak made an excellent pick for me on the other end of it (first base). There’s been a few times this year — probably 4-5 times actually — where I made a nice play and either tried to make a play out of something that I shouldn’t have or just made a bad throw, and right now I’m just doing pretty decent making good throws and it helps when you don’t make a good throw Smoak is able pick me up.”
Smoak is one of the better fielding first basemen in baseball on top of the career season he’s having at the plate.
The way he’s swinging the bat right now, Donaldson was one of the few Jays who probably would have preferred a game on Thursday rather than a day off before Toronto opens a threegame series in Houston.
The Jays just played 20 games in a row and they appear to be a tired team. Manager John Gibbons said they are.
“Yeah, it’s been a lot of games in a row (but) I don’t know how much we need (a day off),” Donaldson said. “I’m guessing if Gibby thinks we need it, then we probably need one. But I feel pretty good personally and looking forward to starting the series in Houston.”