From Jays rookie to rocket man

Pitcher Danny Barnes wants to make the team’s crit­ics eat their words. He sees no rea­son why the Blue Jays can’t tri­umph this sea­son. The team’s top rookie of 2017 talks Don­ald­son’s in­ten­sity, Gibby’s gift of the gab, se­cret hand­shakes and how the team ca

Richmond Hill Post - - News - by Ron John­son

Tell me what’s it like for you suit­ing up for Canada’s only ma­jor-league team?

It’s pretty awe­some. I re­ally didn’t know much about it com­ing into it. But you go on the road, say to Min­nesota or Seat­tle, it’s pretty much like a home game. There’s way more Jays fans there than for the home team, which is pretty re­mark­able.

What do you think of the city so far?

The city is un­be­liev­able. Like, I grew up close to New York City and went there a lot. I feel like Toronto is a lit­tle smaller and a lit­tle nicer. Ob­vi­ously it’s a very di­verse city, and you can get any type of food you want, and there’s al­ways con­certs or fes­ti­vals go­ing on. I’ve never seen it in the win­ter, but sum­mer is pretty cool.

And have you been able to find some favourite lo­cal spots to ex­plore?

I’ve been able to eat in a few dif­fer­ent places, go to the CN Tower and aquar­ium and all that stuff. I’ve been to Kens­ing­ton Mar­ket, and I’ve walked around Queen West. I don’t think I’ve seen all the dif­fer­ent parts of the city, but what I’ve seen has been pretty cool.

So what was it like in spring train­ing, know­ing for the first time that you’re al­ready solid on the ros­ter?

It was def­i­nitely less stress­ful to be able to just work on some things, and it wasn’t like do or die all the time.

What are you most ex­cited about head­ing into the new sea­son?

I think it’s just, like, ob­vi­ously we had a down year last year af­ter go­ing to two ALCSs [Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries]. Ev­ery­body is kind of writ­ing us off this year be­cause the Yan­kees and Red Sox are so stacked. But we are look­ing for­ward to prov­ing some peo­ple wrong and mak­ing them eat their words.

Who are the club­house lead­ers this year?

A lot of the same guys, re­ally. Tulo [Troy Tu­low­itzki] has been a guy ev­ery­one looks up to. [ Josh] Don­ald­son’s a big pres­ence, Russ [Martin]. And then guys like J.A. [Happ] and Marco [Estrada] on the pitch­ing staff a lot of guys look to [for ad­vice].

Is Josh Don­ald­son as in­tense in the locker room as he is on the field?

Uh, yeah.

What has to hap­pen for the team to have suc­cess this sea­son and get back to the play­offs?

I think the big­gest thing is just go­ing to be stay­ing healthy. I think if guys stay healthy and play how they are ca­pa­ble of, I think we’ll be right there. I don’t see why we can’t be in first.

How is John Gib­bons as a man­ager?

Gibby is awe­some. He’s re­ally laid-back, def­i­nitely a player’s man­ager. He’s ap­proach­able and easy to talk to when­ever you have some­thing you want to bring up to him. It’s awe­some to have a man­ager like that.

What is the key to suc­cess as a re­lief pitcher?

There’s a lot of things, but I think the big­gest one is to be able to have a short me­mory, so when you have a bad out­ing it doesn’t bring you down the next few days. Putting it in the past and be­ing able to move on quick is the most im­por­tant thing.

What is your goal, clos­ing games or start­ing?

As far as the bullpen goes, I think ev­ery­one wants to end up clos­ing games at some point. But that’s just a mat­ter of pitch­ing well — then op­por­tu­ni­ties come.

What do you guys talk about out there?

I can’t say that right now.

Ma­jor lea­guers have some se­ri­ous hand­shake rit­u­als. Who has the best one?

[Roberto] Osuna al­ways has a re­ally cool one, when­ever he closes a game. Me and [ Joe] Bi­agini have a thing when we’re done, but it’s a se­cret.

Where are you from and what got you in­ter­ested in base­ball?

I’m from New York, a town called Man­has­set. I’ve al­ways been into base­ball, and I was a big Yan­kees fan grow­ing up when they had those re­ally good teams in the ’90s and early 2000s. It was easy to be­come a base­ball fan when you’re see­ing that every day.

Who were some of your favourite play­ers?

I re­mem­ber watch­ing Mar­i­ano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Bernie Wil­liams, all those guys.

Are we mak­ing the play­offs?

I think if ev­ery­one stays healthy and per­forms. I think we are def­i­nitely bet­ter than any­one else in the di­vi­sion or the league for that mat­ter.

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