DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Like a businessman juggling two briefcases, a cell phone and a cup of coffee as he rushes between meetings, off goes catcher Danny Jansen, the Blue Jays player most in need of his own administrative assistant.
Jansen’s spring schedule is packed, with a new pitching staff to learn and the day-to-day work that goes into preparing for a 162-game marathon. Plus, Jansen has a new hitting routine.
Jansen is starting to hit off a tee -- something he’s never incorporated -- and is using weighted balls in the cage. This offseason, Jansen hit with Ray Borucki, Ryan Borucki's dad, who played in the Minors with the Phillies and is now an independent hitting coach. Suddenly, Jansen has a foundation to stand on at the plate.
This isn’t just a revamped routine with the odd tinker, either. It was built from scratch to give Jansen a structure he’s never had offensively, and there’s a palpable confidence in the 24-year-old’s voice as he breaks it down.
“I have to do it during the day, and I love that. I love that I have to do it,” Jansen said. “Just like catching stuff, I have to do this before I go into a game, otherwise I feel like I can’t play, in a way. I love that I’m there.”
Jansen calls this new routine “completely different,” and it’s something the Blue Jays are thrilled to see. He’s always had a defensive routine coming up as a pro, which really took over in 2019, and he worked to establish himself in the Majors. It worked, with an American League Gold Glove Award nomination that few saw coming, but his bat trailed behind with a .207 average and .640 OPS.
“He didn't really have a routine,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “He had a routine when it came to his defense, he knew what he had to do to get ready for the game, but when it comes to the hitting part, he never really had one. And I know he found one now, so that's good news for us.”
The word “routine” is thrown around often, and it’s an umbrella term that means different things for different players. For Jansen, this is a marriage of information and execution that he hasn’t had before.
Jansen identified a hole in his swing over the offseason. He was drifting.
As Jansen demonstrates this, he shows how his body was moving in the direction of the mound as he began his swing, robbing him of valuable power that he could be generating in his lower body.
“You go out of your legs,” Jansen said. “Staying behind the ball is always a key term. I say it’s easier said than done, really. Once you stay behind the ball, you create space. If you drive, then think of a 95-mph fastball. You’re moving towards it like that, it makes it harder to hit. It’s all about staying behind the baseball.”
So far, it’s working. Jansen has launched two home runs to left field this spring, and even his batting-practice rounds come with a little added thump.
Having this routine translate to opening day is one challenge, and sustaining it through May, July and September is another. Jansen is committed to it, though, and he’s not budging.
“Whether I’m riding the highs or lows, I’ve been consistent in all aspects of the routine. So far I’m sticking to it, and I’m going to stick to it,” Jansen said. “It enables me to be focused and keep the game mentality, even on off-days. It’s been everything for me.”