Jays' Pentecost nearing return behind the plate

 Max Pentecost poses at spring training. Photo: Michael DiStefano

Max Pentecost poses at spring training. Photo: Michael DiStefano

By: Michael DiStefano

Canadian Baseball Network

DUNEDIN, Fla.- The third time’s the charm, hopefully.

After a frustrating start to his professional baseball career, Toronto Blue Jays catching prospect Max Pentecost is nearing a return to game action behind the plate.

After three shoulder surgeries, Pentecost hopes that he is finally healthy and welcomes the challenge of getting back to being the everyday major league catcher he envisions himself to be one day.

“Just getting back into the groove of everything,” said the former first round pick after working on fielding drills at the Bobby Mattick Training Center in Dunedin. “Getting into the everyday routine, getting the body back in shape, and then progressing into future games.”

Pentecost hasn’t caught in a baseball game since July 24th, 2014 with the Jays’ Short-A league affiliate, Vancouver Canadians.

The Jays backstop missed the entire 2015 season rehabbing after his third procedure on his right shoulder, but was able to play in 74 games last year as a designated hitter.

He had a successful 2016 campaign while splitting time between minor league affiliates Lansing and Dunedin with 10 home runs, 41 RBIs, and a .302 batting-average. Despite the success with his bat, Pentecost is eager to get his catcher’s mitt a little dirty in 2017.

“I’ve been catching some live (bullpen sessions), and I feel really good,” the enthused catcher said.

The Jays prospect knows it will take some patience getting back to form once he finally gets into game action, but he’s relying on years of repetition and experience behind the plate to help with his return.

“All the stuff that you learn throughout the years becomes natural at some point,” he said. “You just got to re-find (your game) again, and then one day (hope) you’re like, oh, ok, I’m back into it.”

Although there is no definitive timeline for his return, Pentecost’ motivation and work ethic to get back into game-ready shape is undeniable and he expects to be ready to catch for the Blue Jays organization soon.

“Getting back into a game that’s where it’s going to take a little bit more time for things to click again,” he said. “But hopefully it won't take too long.”