Each weekend through the holiday season, we'll feature a former Fisher Cat talking about his major league debut in own words. This weekend we'll hear from Chad Jenkins, a Fisher Cat from 2011-13 who made his big league debut in 2012.
In his debut season in the bigs, Jenkins earned his first big league win while making 13 appearances, including three starts, for the Blue Jays. This past summer, battling injuries early on, he worked his way back to Toronto and cut his ERA nearly in half, to 2.70. Over ten more appearances, he pitched 33.1 innings and earned another victory. More importantly, he allowed fewer hits, home runs, and walks while keeping nearly identical strikeout numbers.
With the Fisher Cats in 2013, the right pitched four times, compiling a 1.20 ERA over 15 innings. The following stories from Jenkins were recorded during an interview when the Blue Jays made their final visit to Fenway Park in September.
Best Game of Ping-Pong…Ever
(On August 4, 2012), We (the Fisher Cats) had a rain out and it had been probably about a week since I had pitched, and I was supposed to pitch that night. I was just hanging out in the clubhouse playing ping-pong when Siggy (pitching coach Tom Signore) walked in and said 'Hey, put down the paddle, we need to talk to you.'
So I walked in the office and (manager) Sal (Fasano) was sitting behind the desk and said have a seat. I thought to myself, 'What did I do now?' He said Charlie called and we're making a move. Now I had been pitching better, but my overall season was pretty rough. I thought, 'Well, maybe I'm going back to (Class A) Dunedin, I don't know.' But then they said, 'you're flying to Oakland tomorrow,' and I kid you not the first words out of my mouth were 'you're kidding me, right?' I didn't think they were serious.
I flew out the next morning. I woke up a five o'clock, took an hour cab into Boston, six-hour flight across country, and got to the ballpark 30 minutes before the game started. I walked into John Farrell's office and said 'Hey Skip, I'm here.' He said, 'Hey, glad you're here. Grab a jersey. Game starts in 20 minutes.' I walked out of the tunnel as the anthem was playing.
Back and Forth
I got there and I didn't have to throw (as I was in the bullpen). It was getaway day, believe it or not, and they were headed to Tampa. So I made two cross-country flights in one day on my first day in the big leagues.
Mom and Dad
We were lucky, we got the next day off so I got to run some errands and get some stuff together. Luckily enough I got to throw the next day in Tampa for my debut. Since I live in Atlanta, it's only a seven-hour drive so my parents drove down and stayed for the weekend. They were fortunate enough to see me throw my first strike, my first inning in the big leagues, so that was an awesome moment (on August 7, 2012)."
There was a lot of adrenaline, a lot of nerves. I remember I tripped, believe it or not, running from the bullpen to the mound and only one cameraman saw it. It was nerve-wracking, but once I actually got that first strike across, things just settled down and it was just like playing baseball again.
Fighting for a Job
I always feel like I'm fighting for a job, especially this year being hurt and with all the offseason acquisitions, so it's been tough. I'm trying not to take this year as a wasted year (because of injuries). It's been nice (lately) because I've thrown pretty well since I've been up here, and it seems like I can continue to get people out, as far as I'm concerned. That gives me some confidence that I do belong here, and that really helps when it comes time to pitch.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.