Making incredible catches in center field and being the voice out there is not all Jon Jay does for the San Diego Padres. But with a kind heart and value, Jay earned himself the Padres’ Heart and Hustle Award.
The award was created in 2005, and is presented by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, and chosen by a panel. It is given to a current player who “best embodies the values, spirits and traditions of baseball”, and one who demonstrates a passion for the game.
Jay was named the Padres’ winner of the award in July among 30 other players in the league as the preliminary winners, as one player from each team is chosen by the committees based on their demonstration of passion, drive, and desire. A final player will then be chosen.
The award will be presented on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the 17th Annual Legends for Youth Dinner at Capitale in New York City. This event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics. These clinics have made a huge impact on many families and children each year, with the opportunity to interact and learn from players throughout the game of baseball.
Last year, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo received the award, and was also nominated this year. If Jay wins this year, he will be the Padres’ first winner of the award. Among the other players, Jay is up against many notable names, such as Didi Gregorius, Brandon Crawford, Chase Utley, Mike Napoli, and Dustin Pedroia.
Jay was a recipient in 2010 and 2011 when he was with the St. Louis Cardinals. Jay was acquired by the Padres last season, and has since played a huge role not just offensively, but defensively, making outstanding catches and preventing many runs and homers, thus deserving the award.
Travis Jankowski ,who took over in the outfield while Jay was out with an injury, has also been doing a great job. Jay was out since June with a right forearm fracture and on the 60-day disabled list. He then was moved to play three games with Single-A Lake Elsinore, going 3-for-10 and two stolen bases. Jay returned later that month to close out the season with the Padres.
Last season, Jay had a total batting average of .291, slugging at .389, and an OPS of .728 with 26 RBI. However, he struggled with just two home runs. He was unable to drive the ball after his arm injury.
Yes, the Padres are in the rebuilding process with the new talents and young core, and it should be no question they should keep Jay. As they stress the importance of communication and defense, Jay has it on the dot. Contracts have been in the conversation and the Padres are interested in re-signing the outfielder, but again it’s easier said than done. Jay could explore other options, but the Padres are definitely interested in him to a certain extent.