Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
NEW YORK _ The Toronto Blue Jays raided the North York minor peewee practice for help Monday night.
And that’s how former University of British Columbia Thunderbirds catcher Greg Densem was decked out in a Blue Jays uniform and headed for his new duties as a bullpen catcher Wednesday night.
“I’m still taking it all it,” said Densem, 24, looking around Yankee Stadium during batting practice. He now shares duties in the bullpen with Etobicoke’s Alex Andreopoulos.
What if the Jays wanted to warm up a lefty and a right-hander?
Kevin Malloy of the Jays staff came to the rescue suggesting Densem and a call was placed to the Out of the Park facility in Scarborough where Densem was about to work out the Blues.
Last year Densem served as a video coordinator for the class-A Vancouver Canadians and filmed Miguel Castro often. Castro said hello to Densem, who was going to serve as the Toronto Mets 16U coach on Hyung Cho’s staff this summer as well as teaching catching to those in the program.
“Maybe we should form a union … Canadian bullpen catchers,” said Andreopoulos jokingly.
And on Wednesday Martin was behind the plate and Navarro was on the bench … with the two future union members out beyond the left centre field fence.
Densem, who flew into New York Wednesday morn, was told he might learn some new words from the bleacher creatures. He was asked the smallest crowds he ever played in front of with UBC with coach Terry McKaig.
“Maybe Corban … we warmed up pitchers behind the dugout,” said Densem, when UBC visited the Corban Warriors in Salem, Ore.
In his senior year, Densem hit .351 with one homer and 27 RBIs in 38 games with an .890 OPS in 2013, after a medical red-shirt season.
As a junior, Densem batted .225 with seven doubles, three triples, a homer, 16 RBIs in 42 games and a .679 OPS in 2011. In 2010, he hit .236 with five doubles, a homer and 17 RBIs in 41 games with a .692 OPS. And as a freshman in 2009 he had a .222 average with two RBIs in 15 games and a .706 OPS.
Densem, a former Junior National Team member, took video of Canadians players and the opposition running around Nat Bailey with a camera and tripod.
Asked how long he would be squatting for Densem shrugged “maybe four weeks, it could be longer.”
Of course if the Jays dealt Navarro and promoted Josh Thole from triple-A Buffalo then they wouldn’t be using a catcher at the DH spot.
After Malloy made the initial call assistant GM Tony Lacava called Densem to tell him his duties.
When Andreopoulos was hired Gibbons told him to “stick with it … that was my first job with the Blue Jays.”
Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi hired Gibbons to be a bullpen coach and after manager Buck Martinez was fired, Gibbons moved to first base coach and then took over for Carlos Tosca.