Jacobs has cooled in May as the roster filled out
Following a year in which he was the every day starter in Brooklyn, Jason Jacobs finds himself in a split role among a collection of catchers down in St. Lucie. The third-year backstop must now maximize his production both at and behind the plate despite going day to day without knowing when his name will be penciled in the lineup.
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“I think the biggest part of the scattered playing time is just to have a routine every day and just go about that routine to stay ready. It’s definitely been a little bit different with my opportunities to play having not been as frequent as last year in Brooklyn, but I’ve got a real good chance to improve my catching,” Jason Jacobs detailed when asked about sharing time.
After spending two years in the New York-Penn League, the 24-year-old catcher finally made his way to the Florida State League where the Opening Day roster had two other catchers—Sean McCraw and Josh Thole. However, Jacobs feels confident he can make the most of his opportunities though the playing time is divided.
”Whether it’s in game or in bullpens, I’m working every day and I wait for my opportunity there, but it’s a 140-game season and I’m sure I’ll get plenty of chances before the end of the season,” he said.
Jacobs made the most of his chances in April when he appeared in 11 games, hit .314 [11-for-35] with a .442 on-base percentage and was seemingly on his way to repeating his 2007 Brooklyn success when he hit .273 with 12 home runs.
Unfortunately, the success has not carried into the season’s second month as Jacobs is hitting a woeful .048 [1-for-21] in 11 games in May. Yet he stands affirmed that the splintered playing time is not the root cause of his struggles and will not let himself use it as an excuse for his lack of offense. Instead, he knows his ability to adjust to the scenario is his best way of getting through it.
“As far as the adjustments go, they are going to carry me through this stretch, but it’s just been a little bit more difficult for me to get a rhythm with playing every third day. I feel fine, the results really aren’t there, but I feel like my swing is better now then it was in April. It’s the tricky thing about baseball is that the results don’t always show,” he explained.
More importantly for Jacobs is handling the pitching staff even though he may not suit up on a regular basis. Therefore, he ensures he get his work in whether it is between starts, in pre-games or with relievers in-game. He takes any opportunity he gets to in sync with his staff.
“Obviously catching the starters in their mid-week sides, and working in the bullpen with the relievers, I get a pretty good feel for what’s going on and what the pitchers can and can’t do. I don’t feel like I’m getting thrown out there unprepared which is very important.”
“All that work helps me find out what makes me tick and really lets me prepare. It helps me know how I can help myself, and the team, by being as familiar with the pitchers as I can.”
An element that does comfort Jacobs is the amount of familiar faces from the 2007 Cyclones. With Dylan Owen, Eric Niesen, Dillon Gee, Stephen Clyne, Nick Carr and Tim Stronach on the staff, Jacobs has a collection of arms with whom is he well acquainted. Having a second season with this group has allowed him to test his knowledge and his pitchers.
“Working with those guys last year and having them again this year really lets me know what makes them operate,” said Jacobs. “I have a very strong idea of when to test these pitchers when they may not be executing a pitch the best they can or I know when to hit their strengths in tight situations.”
”I think I’m at a great advantage knowing those guys from last year. I think all these pitchers are really maturing and that really lets me find out a lot more about myself behind the plate by pushing these guys,” he continued.
Lastly for Jacobs, it is about his concentration on the diamond as he battles through rotations. Though a catcher by nature, his flexibility allows him to play a number of positions when needed [mostly first base], so he recognizes that he must maintain sharp focus when his name is called.
“As I’ve moved forward, it’s become a lot easier to focus on every moment of the game whatever the situation. I know in college I played a bunch of different positions and I had trouble adjusting to that, but now I feel like I can make those changes now and maintain my focus at the highest level.”
”This game is still a great long process and every day I’m out there, there is something new to pick up and that’s what I continue to work on,” he closed.