7 Questions With Jason Monti

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Former Long Island Duck, and Toronto Blue Jays prospect, Jason Monti took some times to answer "7 Questions." 

CM: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you were drafted by the Blue Jays? What was your reaction? 

JM: The day I got drafted I was sitting home with friends and family waiting for the phone call. It was a long day because many of the scouts had anticipated I was going to go in top 10 rounds. I didn’t end up not going until the 25th round, but the wait was worth it. I finally filled a lifelong dream that I had been chasing since I started to play the game. It was funny because the Phillies and Blue Jays both called and said they were taking me with next pick. The Phillies picked ahead of Blue Jays so when they picked my mother assumed it was me and yelled “He’s a Phillie!” but realized the Jays got me with the next pick.

CM: What was your time like playing in the Blue Jays organization?

JM: My time with the Jays was a little up and down emotionally. My first year in rookie ball I had a good season with a 5-0 record. The following year the Blue Jays decided that they wouldn’t allow me to throw sidearm anymore, which is what hitters hated the most about me. If there was one thing that separated me from the others was I could throw many pitches from different arm angles so the hitter never knew where to anticipate my arm slot. When they shut that down it really affected my game. The following year I requested to go home for an unexpected funeral and the Jays were very sympathetic. When I came back four days later I was released so left a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth. 

CM: Why did you decide to return to Long Island, and join the Ducks in 2011?

JM: I decided to join the Ducks in 2011 because after my first year with Somerset I kind of set myself up for not returning there. I wasn’t taking very good care of myself. I was throwing really well for them, but I slacked in my conditioning which led me to me not be able to go deep in games. I had to go on the shelf for a month because I had elbow tendinitis. After doing rehab and getting better, I realized I needed to get back to basics. The following year the Ducks offered me a roster spot and I took it. At that point I realized how important staying with your routine was, not only in the offseason but during the season.

CM: After a tough 2011 season, you came back in 2012 with a renewed spirit and posted a solid 7-4 record with a 3.22 ERA, helping lead the Ducks to the Liberty Division First Half Championship. What happened changed for you that offseason that made you a better pitcher?

JM: During the 2011 season I broke my thumb and was out for three months. I was going to retire after that year but it was not the way I wanted to go out. Going into 2012 I knew it was my final season, I was going thru the process to become a police officer with the NYPD (New York Police Department) and knew I didn’t have much time left in my baseball career. That offseason I worked very hard on getting in good shape and working on new pitches.  I developed a cut fastball which turned out to be probably my best off speed pitch and worked on my changeup which finally developed into a good pitch for me as well. 

CM:You decided to retired mid-way through the 2012 season. You were pitching well, and the Ducks were playing well. Why retire?

JM: I decided to retire mid-season for some personal family issues. My wife and I were just married and have been together for eight years. We had been doing a long distance relationship since the day we started dating in college. She played college basketball, and was from Boston. After college she decided to play basketball overseas, which was tough. I knew I was going into the Police Academy shortly, and our time together would be affected greatly once again. So we decided to do something for ourselves, and we moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands to live for six months. It was the greatest experience for both of us.

CM: What are you doing now?

JM: Right now I am currently in the NYPD Academy and will be graduating in less than a month. I am hopefully going to be put into midtown south precinct which is in Times Square. I am also playing for the NYPD Baseball team. My teammates are great! We will be taking on the FDNY on August 23th, at MCU Park in Brooklyn. 

CM: In April you weren't invited back to the Ducks championship celebration. You also didn't get championship ring even though you pitched 78.1 innings for the Ducks that season. What are your thoughts on that?

JM: This is a question that still bugs me today. That season I did everything the Ducks asked of me, from relieving to starting, and being bounced back and forth . I earned my spot in the rotation long before I was placed there. However, the front office felt different. I was selected to my first all-star game that season and helped lead the Ducks to the Liberty Division First Half Championship which got them into the playoffs. I still lead the team in wins even though I was absent the second half of the season. When I decided to retire I went to Kevin Baez and gave a two weeks’ notice that I was retiring, which would give me two starts left. I would never leave the team high and dry because I had to much respect for my teammates and coaching staff to leave them on a dime. I pitched my last two games against Bridgeport and finally against Sugar Land. I finished my career with 16 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. The overwhelming support I got from my coaches, teammates and fans was tremendous. After my final game (ended with Dan Lyons walk off hit, the best way to end a career) I walked up to the locker room where I was greeted by my teammates with a standing ovation. I never felt so blessed than at that moment. I knew my teammates respected me and wished me nothing but the best as I did for them. It was probably the most touching moment I ever experienced in my professional career. When I left the clubhouse that night Kevin Baez told me they were going win the championship and I was a big part of it, and earned a ring if they won.   

Unfortunately a few weeks after they won I got a phone call from Ducks President and General Manager, Mike Pfaff who informed me I wasn’t going to get a ring. He went on to tell me that it was my fault the team didn’t do well in the second half and because of that attendance was affected. He tried to tell me that not everyone was getting a ring because there were only so many that could be purchased. But with some investigation through the Atlantic League office I found out that there is no limit it was up to the team. Fans sent me messages that they were upset and annoyed with Pfaff’s decision. They felt I deserved a ring. Especially when guys received rings and were invited back to the ceremony that were only on the team for a very short stint and played in maybe 5-20 games, and weren’t on the playoff roster.  It was the biggest slap in the face I ever got. That would have been my first and only professional ring. I deserved to get one wear it proudly, because some guys go a whole career without winning one. I felt extremely used by the organization.
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