Jays From the Couch looks at the special relationship pitchers and catchers have through the eyes of Blue Jays’ Ryan Borucki & Danny Jansen
The pitcher catcher relationship is like a dance on its own. A tango of sorts. It is a dance that is performed best when there is trust and knowledge among the participants, where the catcher trusts the pitcher to put the ball where he’s asked, and the pitcher trusts the catcher to call that perfect lights out pitch.
Wikipedia explains the relationship between the catcher and pitcher as the battery in baseball, and defines it as a term “first coined by Henry Chadwick in the 1860s in reference to the firepower of a team’s pitching staff and inspired by the artillery batteries then in use in the American Civil War. Later, the term evolved to indicate the combined effectiveness of pitcher and catcher.”
With all the talk about the Blue Jays farm system of late, and Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette causing stirs in the Baseball world, there is another duo in the Blue Jay’s organization that could be game changers in their own right. Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen and Blue Jays pitcher Ryan Borucki seem to have the dance down pat. They’ve grown up together in a way, and that relationship could turn into gold for the Blue Jays in the future.
The familiar ease is obvious as soon as the duo enters the room, and the mutual respect they have for one another solidified as soon as talk centers around the levels both Jansen and Borucki were able to climb last season. Ryan Borucki explained their climb from High A to Triple A as result of hard work and timing,
“We just both got hot at the right time and it was just one of those opportunities where at all levels we just kind of took place of some guys because there were so many moves up to the big leagues. Every chance we got, Double A you could see him succeeding and Triple A. I went up to Double A and did pretty well and came up for my last start in Triple A. It was a lot of fun and I make the joke that I was trying to chase him, because he’s like, my favourite catcher so I couldn’t stay away from him for too long.”
In keeping with the friendly rapport, Danny Jansen chimed in, “I would say I couldn’t get away from him.” Their friendship is obvious, and they seem to be sharing their success by competing and pushing each other forward.
When asked about the praise he has received for how he deals with pitchers so far as well as how he goes about establishing the rapport, Jansen spoke confidently,
“I think it’s something, luckily I was born with, just being able to build relationships, being able to be personable. I like talking to people, meeting new guys and learning, and asking a lot of questions. When you move up levels you’ve got to kind of latch on to somebody that you trust, and meet new people and just get new information from everything, and it’s just a whole bundle right there. I really do enjoy it, I’m passionate about it.”
Ryan Borucki seconded the sentiment,
“From a pitcher’s perspective, he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s always hanging out with people, wanting to go out to dinner with new people, and he just puts himself out there. It helps as a pitcher, especially from a pitcher’s side, to have a catcher that truly truly cares, you know he really cares back there. That helps a lot.”
They both keep the mental side of the game in the forefront, and how important it is to have confidence in themselves as well as their team mates. For Borucki it was all about the competitiveness,
“For me, I’ve always been a big competitor and that was how I get my mental edge pitching wise. When I’m pitching you can see when I’m pitching I have a lot of conviction to it, and I know as a hitter when you feel like someone’s really confident out there it’s a weapon for me because he’s thinking, ok he’s coming at me with his best stuff I better be ready. I’ve always been competitive, I’m usually the person in the locker room that brings the competitive side out of everybody for some reason. Anything we do I try to make it a competition. You can definitely learn, you just have to talk to guys and just see what they do, especially like with when you’re younger you don’t have as much confidence . That’s the biggest key. Once you start getting that confidence it’s a big help.”
Jansen has a different take,
“You’ve got to have something that fuels your fire, like you’re why. They always say, what is your why? Why do you play this game? It’s the passion and all that stuff. I agree with the competitiveness, we all have it and you can always learn it. You can always better it. That’s a big part of our game.”
With the way these two have followed each other through the system, one has to think that it would be an advantage to have such a strong bond as pitcher and catcher, growing together as athletes, becoming brothers. Boding well is the players they look up to and draw inspiration from. For Borucki, Mark Buehrle, a mentor for a few pitchers during – and from reports, after- his tenure with the Blue Jays is the guy. There’s a smile on his face as he talks about being from Chicago and a White Sox fan, watching Buehrle. The way he pitched and played the game is who he bases his own game around. Not a bad choice. In an article by Richard Griffin in 2015, Mark Buehrle’s game was described thusly:
“ On Tuesday in the Jays series opener against the A’s, it was Buehrle on the hill, hitting most of his spots, never shaking Martin off on any pitch that he called, bobbing and weaving his way through seven innings for the win. It made him 11-5 in 19 starts. Over the course of his career, Buehrle has pitched to 24 different catchers and, for the most part, made them all look like Johnny Bench.
The successful relationship between Russell Martin and his pitchers, Buehrle and recently Marcus Stroman highlight the importance of this relationship in baseball. The trust is obvious, the success tangible.
For Danny Jansen, he describes a myriad of people, Russell Martin, Ken Huckaby, Sal Fasano – both catching coordinators- that make up how he plays the game.
These mentors dance well together and will only continue to forge a strong pitcher catcher bond between Jansen and Borucki. It is a relationship that will be good to see play out at the major league level in the near future.
The Blue Jays seem to have taken the relationship between catcher and pitcher seriously and these two, Borucki and Jansen, will be looking to continue the dance, and Blue Jays fans can hope that it will continue that dance together.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.