Former CS, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Hayhurst now a broadcaster

By mike keating Special to The Press-News Published:

Dirk Hayhurst, a former Canton South High School and Kent State University pitching standout, is now looking at baseball from a different perspective.

Hayhurst, now a color analyst with the Toronto Blue Jays, briefly discussed his new profession and also briefly reminisced about the last chapter of his playing days while addressing the membership of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Club Monday afternoon at its weekly luncheon in Tozzi's Restaurant.

"Part of my job is to analyze trades and the first thing I noticed is how fans can change their minds," Hayhurst quipped. "Toronto was expected to have a good year last season, but it was hit by a lot of injuries and lost a lot more games than expected. They had a lot of prospects, so the outcry was to make trades. They did that, but the response was the organization spent too much money."

Hayhurst, 31, pitched briefly for the Blue Jays, his second Major League stop. He was drafted in the eighth round by the San Diego Padres in 2003 and was called up by the parent team in 2008. After pitching for San Diego and Toronto in 2009, he underwent shoulder surgery in 2010 before signing a minor league contract with Tampa Bay but eventually was released.

While still active as a professional baseball pitcher, Hayhurst also became an author, penning two books on his sport. Both became best sellers.

After being released by the Rays, Hayhurst decided to give baseball one more chance, but his choice was Italy, one which became a poor one by his own admission.

"I signed a contract written in half-English, half-Italian on an email with a lot of misspellings," he chuckled. "I really didn't know how binding that was."

Hayhurst didn't stick around long to find out. He left quickly, ending his playing days and beginning the broadcasting commentator phase of his career.

"Baseball is a sport, but it's also entertainment driven and everyone wants to have an opinion on it," Hayhurst said. "I figure I can do that, but I also learned people will give you so much hate for talking negatively about their team."

Hayhurst referenced the ire he drew by the Toronto fans when he critiqued ex-teammate Ricky Romero, a left-handed pitcher, for his 2012 season.

"He had some really good years, but he had a terrible year last year," Hayhurst added. "I said it was an embarrassing year, but it got back to him I said he was an embarrassment, which wasn't true."

Hayhurst had evidence supporting his claim. Romero was 9-14 with a 5.77 ERA in 2012 after he posted marks of 13-9, 14-9 and 15-11 the three previous years. His ERA in 2012 nearly doubled from the 2.92 mark in 2011.

While removed nearly one decade from Kent State baseball, Hayhurst was proud of what the Golden Flashes achieves last spring, making the College World Series for the first time.

"They had an even mix of veterans and younger guys, they had great team chemistry and were able to pick up each others' weaknesses," he added. "They're always able to pick up young talent and the trip to the College World Series last year should help them in the future."

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