Danny Barnes is one of the most successful relief pitchers in Dunedin Blue Jays history. He burst onto the prospect scene in 2012, setting Dunedin's franchise record with 34 saves and posting a 1.40 ERA in 50 appearances. Despite injuries and adversity, he battled his way to the Major Leagues in 2016 and has emerged as one of the most dependable relievers in the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen. He received the most fan votes of any reliever on the All-Dunedin Team ballot.
Strike 1: You received the most votes of any relief pitcher on the All-Dunedin Team ballot. What does it mean to you to still have such strong fan support and to be recognized alongside so many great players?
This means a lot to me. Obviously, I've spent a lot of time in Dunedin in my career and have grown to really love the town. The fact that I got the most votes with all the other relief pitchers on the list is an awesome honor. I've played with a few of the others selected and am friends with them. I guess I'll have some bragging rights there.
Strike 2: You played parts of three seasons with Dunedin. What were your favorite memories from your time with the D-Jays?
My favorite memory was probably breaking the single season saves record in 2012. I remember my family happened to be there and one of my sisters won the launch-a-ball after the game, which isn't easy! I also remember winning the first half in 2012 and 2014. In 2014, it was the first game of a double header. We celebrated after the first game and played the second game soaked but still won. It was great.
Strike 3: It was not an easy climb to the majors for you. As a 35th-round pick who spent seven seasons in the minors (including missing nearly an entire season due to a shoulder injury), what were you thinking and feeling when you took the mound in a Major League game for the first time?
I was so tired from all the travel before my debut that I couldn't be nervous which was probably a good thing. The Jays were also in the middle of a pennant race so I wasn't so caught up in making the majors, I just wanted to help the team win. In the offseason, I looked back on it and all the people that really supported me when I had shoulder surgery and was struggling in 2013/14. It's really not an individual accomplishment. I wouldn't have been where I am without that support and those people.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.