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Saturday June 24, 2017
Photo cred: Angela Burger
Story by: Dustin Saracini
Maybe it’s the hair, maybe it’s the Michael Buble walk-up song, or maybe it’s the power he’s shown with a bat in his hands, but, one way or another, it’s easy to take notice of Jayse McLean this season.
There’s a reason McLean is “feeling good” in 2017. Coming off a stint where he was named WMBL player of the week -- hitting .538 with seven hits and three home runs in four games -- the Montana product has been enjoying an incredible debut with the Okotoks Dawgs.
Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the (big) kid from North Dakota State University. We discussed his knee surgery, taking live at-bats for the first time in over a year, and what it’s like to be a Dawg, take a look:
DS: Walk me through the recruitment process, how did you find yourself in Okotoks?
JM: Really, most of my contact came through Tyler Graham. I've known him all my life and we grew up in the same neighborhood so when he got the coaching job up here he asked me to come play and I knew what the Dawgs were all about, so I knew it was an awesome opportunity.
DS: It’s been over a year since you took live AB’s, did you ever think you would make such a strong impact to the begin the season?
JM: I don't know if I would call it a strong impact, I'm just looking to go out every day and do my part to help the team win and it makes it a lot easier knowing that there are 25+ other guys trying to do the same thing.
DS: You were actually supposed to play with the Dawgs a year ago, but a knee injury held you back. What happened there and how long was the recovery?
JM: It was sort of just a freak deal and I ended up tearing the root of my meniscus off the bone on a routine play in the outfield. It took quite a while to find out what was wrong but I ended up having surgery last June which sidelined me for six months. I tried to come back at the beginning of this year but still didn't feel right and I ended up having a second surgery and getting some torn up cartilage cleaned out of my knee. I redshirted at school this year and didn't play at all so I was pretty excited to get back on the field after not playing in over a year, and to kick it off in front of 4000 fans made it that much better.
DS: Had to be tough to watch NDSU this year, what does it feel like knowing you’re going to get four AB’s almost every night with Okotoks?
JM: Getting live at-bats is really important for me. All the guys on the team are looking to have great summers but the most important thing for all of us is getting better so we can perform better in the spring at our respective schools and there is no substitute for live at-bats against pitchers. Especially for me, since I missed so much being sidelined, it's really good for me to see velocity and off speed and get used to being back on the field again.
DS: First impressions of the fan base? Anything like you've ever experienced?
JM: It’s special. There is no way to describe the support we get night in and night out. It's not just at the field either, it's all around the community. If we're recognized there is always kind words or a congratulations on a good win. I haven't ever been a part of something like it and only been on the opposing side of something like it a few times. We all love coming to the field every day to play baseball but when thousands love to come watch us do it, it makes it special.
DS: Blistering start to the season, being new, what makes this team so special?
JM: It comes down to being a well-rounded team. No one on the team is going to have a great game every single night so as a team you have to pick each other up and we do that well. It takes a lot of pressure off you when you are confident that any one of the guys on the team can do something big to get the team a win.
DS: The coaching staff has pegged you as someone who leads by example. What are your thoughts knowing the coaches trust in your abilities?
JM: We've got a lot of leaders on the team with tons of experience coming from different backgrounds. We've got good team chemistry and everyone gets along well, which is always good for the atmosphere in the dugout and locker room. I think the coaches trust in all of the guys on our team otherwise we wouldn't be here. They know what type of players we are and what we can do. Their job is to come to the field and get that talent out of us and our coaches certainly do a good job of that.
DS: Day off in Alberta, where do you go?
JM: Fly fishing on the Bow River.
The Dawgs now take to the road against the Lethbridge Bulls for a three-game home-and-home series, capped off with a Sunday double-header at Seaman Stadium.
Get your tickets here: od1.glitnirticketing.com/odticket/web/ev_cal.php