Blue Jays prospect Nay takes page from grandfather’s playbook

Third baseman Mitch Nay looks toward his future at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Photo: Jessica Ng

Third baseman Mitch Nay looks toward his future at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Photo: Jessica Ng

By: Jessica Ng

Canadian Baseball Network

Mitch Nay’s love of baseball runs in his blood.

His grandfather, Lou Klimchock, spent 12 seasons as a major-league infielder, playing for the Kansas City Athletics, Milwaukee Braves, Washington Senators, New York Mets, and Cleveland Indians.

Klimchock introduced his grandson to the sport at a young age, and Nay was hooked from the start. 

“I was probably two or three,” he reminisces. “My grandfather was always throwing balls to me. We actually got to hit a bit this off-season, and it was good. It brought back old memories, and just reminded me of a time when baseball was so simple.”

The road to the big leagues, Nay has learned, is anything but simple. 

Shortly after the Toronto Blue Jays drafted him out of high school as a first-round pick, he broke his foot, delaying his start by a year.

A series of quick minor-league promotions have seen the Tanzana, Calif., native play for Bluefield, Lansing, Dunedin, and Blue Jays of the Gulf Coast League.

The once seventh-ranked Jays prospect has struggled with power at the plate, declining from a .300 batting average in 2013 to .091 in his eight games of 2016. A staph infection in his knee and three subsequent surgeries have restricted his time on the field over the past 18 months.

“By the time that was all done, I had just no more range of motion and I lost all my strength,” Nay explains. “I just want to get back on the field the way I want to play, with all the explosiveness I usually have, and just get this whole thing under control.”

To help him through extensive rehabilitation, he remembers his grandfather’s words, which echo the sheer timelessness of the sport.

“Generations of baseball, this game has a love affair with history,” he explains. “The thing I take from him is that the game hasn’t changed that much. When he tells me things, they are things that we go through - whether we’re talking about hitting or travelling or anything, clubhouse stuff - it’s all very relevant.”