By Jessica Ng
Canadian Baseball Network
Every cloud has a silver lining – even the extensive Blue Jays' disabled list, which has taken on a life of its own this season.
With Troy Tulowitzki previously absent for 31 games and Devon Travis now on the mend post-knee surgery, utility player Ryan Goins has seen a lot more time on the field and he is certainly making the most of it.
“I don’t think we could praise him [Goins] enough for what he’s done,” manager John Gibbons said. “Big hits left and right, home runs, one walk-off win hit. He really stepped up.”
Less than halfway through the season, Goins has already outperformed his 2016 self, registering more hits and seeing a whopping 225% increase in RBI.
This year, he has slowed down his approach, making him more effective at the plate.
Seen perusing the iPad assessment in the dugout, he believes performance lies outside the numbers.
“If you’re a good player, you’re a good player – it’s nothing about what this crazy five-letter stat means,” he said. “Play the game the right way, play the game hard – that’s what I really look at.”
He takes his cue from his childhood hero, Derek Jeter.
“He [Jeter] was never in trouble with the media, or portrayed as a bad guy – I don’t think you’ve ever heard anybody say a negative word about him,” the 29-year-old Blue Jay said. “He handles his business the right way. He had fun playing the game, and that’s something that’s very admirable.”
Sharing the field with the Yankees famous No. 2 will always stick in the Blue Jays infielder's mind.
“He would come to second base, and I would just be there – the only guy I’ve ever been star struck playing,” Goins said. “Having a guy like that know your name – that was pretty special. He was one of my favourite players when I was little.”
The Temple, Texas native credits his family for getting him into baseball.
His father, Scott, played 259 games in the San Francisco Giants farm system. The senior Goins finished his career with the class-A San Jose Giants the year after Ryan was born.
The Jays’ recent road trip to Arlington was an opportunity for Ryan to visit his family – something he doesn’t get to do often since Toronto drafted him in 2009.
“I talk to my parents a lot – they text me pretty much after every game that I play,” Goins said. “They’ve been with me along the way – my dad was my coach my whole life, and mom thinks she’s a hitting coach.”
Wherever baseball takes him, the Texan maintains close ties with back home. He still keeps tabs on his varsity team, the Dallas Baptist University Patriots.
“Even now, they made the regional for the sixth time in the last seven years,” he said. “Our head coach [Dan Heefner] was awesome – he brings guys in that have great character, and he turns them into men. He makes them great baseball players."
Two of Goins’ DBU teammates, Brandon Bantz and Vic Black, were also selected in the same draft class. The Blue Jay still remains the standout success story.
Moving forward in the 2017 season, Gibbons hopes to get Goins up to the plate a lot more.
“When a guy’s playing good, you look forward to getting him in there,” the manager said. “He [Goins] started hitting his stride.”
Coming up with several clutch hits and his first career grand slam on May 24 against the Milwaukee Brewers, Goins has set his eyes on further improvement.
“Only expectation here is [for] this team to win and get to the playoffs again,” he said. “I think that’s what everybody’s goal is, and I think that’s why we come here everyday.”