Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 27
 
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
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BARNES AND NOBLE: Dan Barnes fires a pitch during his career with the Princeton University baseball team. Barnes, who had 40 strikeouts in 49 innings for work this spring in his junior season with the Tigers, signed a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays last month after getting chosen in the 35th round of the Major League Baseball Draft. Barnes is currently pitching for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla.

PU Baseball’s Barnes Overcomes Arm Injury; Now Living Out Dream of Playing at Pro Level

Bill Alden

It looked like Dan Barnes’ dream to play pro baseball might be shattered during his sophomore season with the Princeton University baseball team.

In his third start of the season, Barnes felt a twinge in his right arm. At first, he didn’t think it was serious but he quickly learned otherwise.

“It hurt a little that day but it felt OK the next day,” recalled Barnes.

“But after that, I couldn’t get the muscles to fire. It turned out that I had a pinched nerve in my bicep. It takes a long time to heal. I didn’t know what was going to happen or when I was going to be able to pitch again.”

Barnes threw himself into rehab and the injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“It helped me a lot; I was able to take a stop back and strengthen other areas,” said Barnes.

“I worked out with weights and I worked on my mechanics. I didn’t pitch last summer but I pitched all fall and winter. My stuff was back to normal and I even picked up 1-2 mph on my fastball to get it up to 90-94 mph.

While Princeton struggled to a 12-30 record this spring, Barnes was at full strength. The 6’1, 195-pound righty from Manhasset, N.Y. went 1-3 in nine starts and had 40 strikeouts in 49 innings.

“It was a tough year but I tried to keep learning,” said Barnes. “I learned a lot more about pitching.”

Last month, Barnes’ diligence was rewarded as the Toronto Blue Jays drafted him in the 35th round of the Major League Baseball Draft.

Like his Princeton career, things didn’t come easy for Barnes as he nervously waited things out in the draft.

“It was pretty stressful the second day,” said Barnes. “I was hoping to get picked between rounds eight and 12. Scouts are calling you, saying they are going to help you and will you sign. It is mayhem. After the second day, I wasn’t paying too much attention.”

The Jays got Barnes’ attention when they came calling and he quickly decided to sign with them and start his pro career.

“I was really excited, I was really happy,” said Barnes, reflecting on learning that he had been chosen.

“I spoke to coach Bradley (Princeton head coach Scott Bradley) and he said as long as they pay for school, I should go pro. I was not going to get much better with six more Ivy League starts.”

In reflecting on his Princeton career, Barnes is grateful for what he got out of the experience.

“It has really been incredible, being around some great people,” said Barnes, an economics major who will be back for the fall semester and is planning to start work on his senior thesis this summer.

“Coach Bradley and the trainers have really helped me learn new routines. Coach Bradley has been a huge resource for me.”

Since signing his pro contract, Barnes has been learning some new routines toiling in the minor leagues for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla.

“It is a lot different than college,” said Barnes, whose club plays in the Gulf Coast League North division. “You are up at 6:30 in the morning and you are on the field from 7:30 to 4. You get some rest and then you do it all over again the next day. It is great; this is what I want to do.”

The Blue Jays want Barnes to provide some bullpen depth for the organization.

“Right now I want to develop as a relief pitcher; it is something I have to learn to do again,” said Barnes, who served as a closer for part of his freshman year at Princeton and has given up zero runs and struck out 13 in seven innings of work so far for the Blue Jays.

“I need to get a routine. I enjoyed it as a freshman. I am thrilled to do anything that they want.”

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