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PilotOnline: A Labor of Glove


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Janish (pronounced YAH-nish), a 32-year-old Houston native, has handled the ball during live game action 312 times this season. He's committed just one fluky error, and his nearly perfect .997 fielding percentage leads International League shortstops.

But it's his workmanlike approach to the game that makes Janish, who's played pro ball since he was selected in the fifth round of the 2004 draft by the Cincinnati Reds, stand out to coaches and teammates.

When the Tides are at home, Janish arrives at Harbor Park mid-afternoon. He doesn't, as Norfolk manager Ron Johnson puts it, "play grab-ass."

Viewing the game as a vocation, he goes to work.

As a matter of routine honed over the years, during batting practice, Janish assumes his position at short and takes a few ground balls to his backhand side as line drives fly around him from the cage over home plate. He takes a few balls hit right at him and throws across the diamond to first base to maintain his arm strength.

He then takes grounders and feeds the ball to second base, as though starting a double play, before coming in on the grass to take quick-reaction rollers as though the infield is drawn in and the game is on the line.

"As a general rule, most people don't harp on that," Janish said. "But it's funny, because the only time you're ever going to have to do it is if it's a game-costing situation."

That kind of thinking - and that kind of repetition with practical intent - is what sets Janish apart, Johnson said.

Janish has four years and 115 days of major league service time, figures that often price a defense-first player like him out of the major leagues.

But as long as he's in the minors, Janish figures he'll keep doing things the right way.

"That is a professional baseball player," Johnson said, using the term with reverence.

"He sets his feet to throw on every ground ball he fields - every one of them. It's like practice makes perfect, and his preparation is as good as it gets."

Janish's younger teammates - and for the record, they're all younger - follow his lead, both on and off the field.

"I learn something new every day," said 25-year-old second baseman Rey Navarro, who has been Janish's double-play partner more than anyone this season. "He's a mature guy.

"When he steps through those front doors, he's focused on the game. He cares about his teammates. He's like a captain, I would say."

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