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Jose Berrios

Positive thoughts help Blue Jays righty Jose Berrios

Jose Berrios works on improving mindset

As Jose Berrios stares at the catcher waiting for the pitchcom to deliver the sign, he inhales deeply. He holds his breath for a split second trying to relax his nerves prior to the pitch. 

This pre-pitch ritual helps the Bayamon, Puerto Rico, native zero in on the batter. It also allows him to praise himself with self love and positive affirmation. 

When Jose Berrios was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays from the Minnesota Twins it was hard for him to feel comfortable with the move. Minnesota was already a long distance from his house in Tampa, Fla., and even farther from his family in Puerto Rico. Toronto made the distance greater. 

“I was at a new place,” Berrios said about moving to Toronto. “I came here in 2021, but in 2022 I still felt like I was new here.”

Jose Berrios finds comfort again

In 2022, Berrios posted a career-worse 5.23 ERA. Only his rookie season in 2016 was worse. He also led the American League in hits allowed (199), and earned runs (100). He trailed only the Washington Nationals’ Patrick Corbin in both categories that season. 

Berrios’ confidence dwindled. The former first round pick in the 2012 draft could not piece his arsenal together despite posting a 12-7 record. 

Berrios, 29, decided to battle his mental challenge by instilling positivity around him. He focused on the issues he could control, and he didn’t allow himself to ponder the past. Jose Berrios eliminated completely what the naysayers had to say.


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“I filled my heart with positive things,” Berrios said, “With real information, that can help me as a person and as an athlete. That was the biggest change I made.”

He carried this mentality into the following season. He pitched more poised and relaxed, which led to finer numbers. Although he ended the 2023 season with a 11-12 record, Berrios lowered his ERA, WHIP and H/9. He also won his first Gold Glove Award.

Leaving doubts behind 

“In 2023 I told myself there are no more chances to doubt myself or do the wrong things,” he said. “I have to do the correct things. I prepared physically and mentally, but having a positive mentality and confidence was the key to my success last year.” 

This year has been no different. Berrios excelled in his fourth career Opening Day start. He threw six innings with six strikeouts against the Tampa Bay Rays. It was exciting for Berrios as his parents flew in from Puerto Rico to watch him. His wife and kids were also in attendance. 

Berrios followed up that performance with another quality start, this time against the Astros on Tuesday night. After exploding for 10 runs the night before, the Astros were limited to one run in Tuesday’s game.  He gave up only one run on Jose Altuve’s home run in the fourth inning. 

Berrios exited with a 1-0 deficit after six strong innings, but he had pitched well enough to keep it close against Astros ace Framber Valdez. The Blue Jays then took the lead late to defeat the Astros 2-1. 

has seen a growth in Berrios’ character. Which he believes has been a crucial piece to his success. 

“He’s pitching with a whole bunch of confidence right now,”  Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “We’ll take our chances with Jose against anyone.” 

Following father’s advice

While Berrios has worked mightily to establish himself as an ace in the major leagues, pitching was not in his original plan. Truthfully, Berrios believes pitching is boring. He did not want to be in the dugout the majority of the time. He thinks hitting is the most exciting aspect of baseball. 

His father Angel Berrios, who was a left-handed pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization persuaded Berrios to transition from a middle infielder to a pitcher. His older brother Angel Berrios Jr. also had the same fate.

“My brother is like me,” Berrios said. “We grew up playing infield, but in our senior year we transitioned to pitchers because we couldn’t hit. On the field we started growing physically and mentality. We were athletes so we developed our baseball sense on the field.”

The transition was not difficult for the hard-throwing right-hander. Berrios made 32 appearances each season since 2018, excluding the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

“As a kid he showed my brother and me how to properly pitch,” Berrios said. “He showed us how to stay healthy after pitching for a long time. It has been fundamental for me as I grow as a pitcher.”

The obstacles Jose Berrios had to overcome were difficult. However, he knows he’s made the right decision.

Photo via @BlueJays/X.

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