Jay brings focus, work ethic to Padres

Outfielder already taking leadership role with new team

February 29th, 2016

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jon Jay's uniform is different, but his approach is the same.

The outfielder spent the last six seasons roaming the outfield at Busch Stadium and had been with the Cardinals' organization since they selected him in the second round of the 2006 Draft. But that all became history when Jay -- who is a free agent at the end of the season -- was traded to the Padres on Dec. 8.

"It's fine, just a new adjustment, a new chapter in my life," Jay said. "It's just like when you leave high school, you go to college. You leave college, you go to pro ball and then you go to a new team."

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But Jay's new team isn't like his old team.

The Cardinals have been to the playoffs each of the past five seasons. The Padres haven't had a winning season since 2010. So what sort of wisdom can the 30-year-old outfielder impart to his teammates to help them reach new heights in 2016?

"It's all about working hard and being accountable," Jay said. "It's not about a secret to success. We've got a lot of guys here that have won before, so that's good. We've just got to start building it up as a team."

And that starts in camp, where Jay's work ethic has been on display.

"He practices perfect and I think that's why he's so fundamentally sound," Padres manager Andy Green said. "I hope that rubs off on people."

Although he hasn't been with the organization for very long, Jay is already developing into a leader in the clubhouse.

"All that stuff sorts itself out," Jay said. "It's about getting to know your teammates, coming out here working. All that takes a little bit of time."

While Jay downplayed his role as a leader, his manager didn't.

"He's tremendous; he's taking ownership in every single way," Green said. "He pays attention to every fine detail of the game. When I talk about fine focus, he's a player that has that. He's out there in drill work, he's concentrating on how his feet are moving, how his hands are moving, how he's catching the ball. He wants to do everything perfectly."

For the Padres to turn it around, they are hoping Jay is healthy and performs like he did earlier in his career.

Multiple wrist injuries impacted Jay at the plate in 2015. As a result, the outfielder put up the worst statistical season of his career in several offensive categories and played in a career-low 79 games.

When healthy, Jay has been a different player. From 2010-14, Jay averaged 136 games a season and hit .295 with a .359 on-base percentage. Defensively, he set a Cardinals record with 245 errorless games from 2011-13.

The Padres will look for Jay to hit toward the top of the order and be an everyday left fielder, but as someone who has played all three outfield spots and hit in every spot of the order, Jay isn't worried about expectations or where he is in the lineup.

"I'm comfortable everywhere," Jay said. "I've played everywhere so I'm not worried about that. I'm just worried about the process, coming here and working hard every day and whatever happens, happens."