Major League Jacks


Treinen pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals April 17. Treinen is the second Jackrabbit to make it to the majors (courtesy of the Washington Nationals).

Despite being sent to the minor league camp March 24, Blake Treinen ‘11 felt good about what he accomplished in spring training with the Washington Nationals.

That confidence was a result of the right-handed pitcher finishing spring training by striking out seven batters in 8 2/3 innings and allowing only one run. That stretch paid off as Treinen was soon called up to the Nationals. He made his major league debut April 12 against the Atlanta Braves, the first of three appearances within a week.

Treinen struck out one batter in his debut, a two-inning outing against the Braves. He became just the second-ever Jackrabbit to appear in the major leagues, and the second in as many seasons. Treinen’s debut comes just 11 months after Caleb Theilbar became the first Jackrabbit to play in a major league game May 20, 2013.

Despite it being his third time playing in a major league game, Treinen said the first time he felt nervous was against St. Louis April 17. That contest marked his first time playing in front of the Nationals’ home crowd, one possible reason for the nerves.

“I can’t give one reason why. I had been calm in my first two games,” Treinen said.

“I think my calmness was because I had an opportunity to pitch in spring training. I had all of that time to get acclimated to the names in the box against me,” he continued. “I had to simplify things, remind myself the strike zone is the same size and focus on the job at hand. I’m sure Caleb would say the same.”

Treinen and Theilbar were both on the Jackrabbits’ roster in 2009 but Treinen sat out the season as a result of transferring. Also on that roster was Layne Somsen, a 22nd-round draft choice by Cincinnati in 2013. Somsen is in the Reds’ minor league system.

“I’m honored to be the second Jackrabbit in the majors,” Treinen said. “I’m sure Layne’ll be here, too, at some point.”

After sitting out a season, Treinen became the ace of the Jacks’ 2010 staff. As a result, the then-Florida Marlins drafted Treinen but he returned to State for his senior season. After recording seven wins for the second-straight season, he was then drafted in the seventh round by Oakland in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Washington acquired him as a part of a three-team trade in January 2013.

Following his nervous home debut against St. Louis, Treinen was sent to the Nationals’ AAA affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y., primarily to get some starts with the Chiefs. He would return to Washington within a few weeks.

That return put Treinen into the Nationals’ starting rotation.

While making his first major league start, Treinen collected his first hit, a single to center field off Los Angeles Dodger Clayton Kershaw. Not bad for someone who did not record an at bat, much less a hit, at State.

“I told myself to choke up and put the barrel on the ball,” said Treinen, noting his first at bat did not go well. “It found a spot. I called that at bat my spray and pray method. If you put me up 100 times against the guy, that might be the only hit I get against him as I’m sure he’ll pitch me differently. I’m definitely going to hold onto that one.

“I’m not a hitter, but hitting is something I’m working on,” he said. “I’m never going to be a great hitter but I want to work on my craft at the plate, make sure I get bunts down or do what’s needed.”

When Treinen was looking for a place to attend college, one of the needed items was a landscape architecture or landscape design program.

He was attending the University of Arkansas but wanted a chance to play baseball, especially at the NCAA Division I level. A native of Osage City, Kan., he was thinking of attending the University of Kansas but a connection drew him further north.

“When I learned SDSU had a landscape design program, I took it as a sign from God that he’s opening another door for me,” Treinen said. “Ritchie (Price) put his faith in me and challenged me to develop. I’m grateful for the opportunity.

“I’m not sure I would have got the innings elsewhere. I was 20, 21, in my fourth year in college and got an opportunity. I’m so grateful for that,” he continued. “Martin Maca and Matt James. I definitely have to say thanks to them, too, for their work with me in landscape design classes.”

Now a member of the Nationals, his baseball career is falling into place just as he designed.

Matt Schmidt

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