The chatter is everywhere. The speculation increases with each Toronto Blue Jays loss. When will they reach down to Buffalo for help with its anemic offense? When will they give Jim Negrych a look?
Could haves. Should haves. Possibilities.
Those are all words for other people, though. Not for Negrych.
Sure, the St. Francis product is leading the International League in batting average. He’s hitting .416 and in April had the second best average in all of minor league baseball, batting .429 (27-63). But he remains grounded, focused on the present, and concerned only with helping his team win. He isn’t concerned about decisions that are out of his control.
Negrych picked up three more hits Saturday afternoon, including a two-run double as the Buffalo Bisons dropped a 6-5 decision to the Louisville Bats at Coca-Cola Field.
“I just try to go out there every day and just play. Every day is a new day in this game,” Negrych said. “If you look at yesterday I went 1 for 6 and today I go 3 for 5. It happens. You just try to go out there and keep a clean slate in your mind and not worry about what you’ve done in the past and try to stay as present as possible.”
Staying present is a skill in itself, especially considering that the Blue Jays are woefully disappointing this season. Billed as a team to compete for the American League East, the Jays dropped an 8-1 decision to Seattle on Saturday to drop their record to 10-21 – their worst start since going 8-23 in 1979.
The Blue Jays are last in all of Major League Baseball in batting (.226) and their second basemen are an offensive disaster. Former Bison Macier Izturis is batting .191 and Emilio Bonifacio, acquired in a big offseason trade with the Marlins, is hitting .171.
Negrych, who was an All-Star with Triple-A Syracuse last season, was signed as a minor league free agent by the Blue Jays in November, largely to bolster the lineup in Buffalo.
But now, with the wheels coming off the Blue Jays season, isn’t it time they start thinking about giving Negrych his first Major League call up?
That’s not even on his radar screen.
“I don’t really focus on any of that stuff. I can’t do anything about it,” Negrych said. “I’m very happy playing baseball here every day and being in the lineup. That’s all I can focus on. That’s all I can be concerned with is just coming here, coming to the park and going out there and playing to the best of my ability every single night.
“Nobody knows what’s going on up there. No one gets paid to know what’s going on up there. It’s not our job. I don’t get paid to go out and think about what’s the next move for a GM in Toronto to make. My job is to come out here and try to perform and try to help this team win.”
The numbers Negrych has put up and the demeanor in which he carries himself has been no surprise to Bisons’ manager Marty Brown, who has emphasized to the entire team all season the importance of being focused on playing for Buffalo, not on what might happen with callups to Toronto.
“He just goes up and battles. He’s a little grinder. We’ve got several guys on the team like that but Jimmy’s just really competed at the plate,” Brown said. “He’s pretty level-headed. He understands what’s going on. I think quite frankly he enjoys playing here. He comes to the park to play every day. When he gets that opportunity [to play for Toronto] I think he’ll respond very well.”
In the meantime, there are plenty of things for Negrych to focus on with the Bisons. It’s the details of the game, after all, which add up to success.
“There’s enough things that can occupy you being here,” Negrych said. “Working on your swing. Figuring out what the pitcher is trying to do to you. What the situation at hand is during the game. You can’t worry about anything other than what is going on in the game.”