Inside The Dugout With Jake Chutney

Jake Chutney is a left-handed pitcher from Seattle University

After attending any 2012 Neptune Beach Pearl Game, Jake Chutney will likely be the first player you see or hear. The lefthander pitcher from Seattle University is described by his coaches and teammates as a “big personality,” and Chutney definitely lives up to the hype. He rarely sits still and never stops talking, which sums up his attitude on baseball to a T – to “keep it loose and keep it light.” It’s easy to spot #21 as he walks around the dugout, trying to make sure everyone has a good time. His favorite song is “Young, Wild and Free,” by Wiz Khalifa, which fits Chutney extremely well – after all, Chutney wants to enjoy the road that baseball’s taking him on for as long as he can.

            Like most of his teammates, Chutney’s baseball career began early. Growing up in Orange County, Calif., Chutney remembers always having a ball and a glove at his house. His first start as a pitcher came when he was four and was watching his throwing mechanics, which ended with him throwing the ball straight through a sliding glass door. Thankfully, his aim improved after that incident, and he now throws a fastball, a curveball and a changeup as part of his repertoire – and hasn’t broken any glass since. From there, Chutney snuck into T-ball a year early, and made his way through Harris Creek Little League. High school saw him make varsity starting his sophomore year, and Chutney earned all-league honors for three years, with his most memorable moment coming in his senior year, where he threw a four-hit shutout. He then committed to Seattle University and made his first career start for the Redhawks this year against the University of Washington. While his outing was not his most successful, Chutney was able to learn from the experience and improve upon it. His goals for summer ball focus on his strength as a pitcher improving – as well as having a great summer.

            After spending a little time with Chutney, it’s clear that he lives up to his reputation as a “clown in the dugout.” A self-described “party-starter,” “Chutnasty,” as he’s called by his teammates, likes to have fun. The life of a bullpen pitcher is “a different lifestyle,” Chutney said. The relievers have the most fun, in his opinion, but they also have to be ready at any moment. “You can’t just be playing the name game with the coach telling you to get loose,” Chutney said. One can easily find Chutney wandering around the dugout, talking smack, trying on catcher’s gear or grabbing anything he sees and playing with it – especially if it’s not his. He’s just there to have fun, and he “tells it like it is, not like it was.” Sometimes, his mouth might get him into trouble, especially if some foul language slips out in front of the coach, but most of the time, his naturally upbeat personality keeps him on everyone’s good sides.

            Chutney’s not exactly a mean-spirited guy; just someone who is a “rule-bender, not a rule-breaker.” When it comes to the game, however, he can take whatever baseball throws his way, including ulma nerve relocation surgery that took place his senior year of high school. An example of this came during his pitching against the Walnut Creek Crawdads July 7th, as one of his pitches came straight back at him to hit Chutney in the thigh. Though dazed, Chutney got back up on the mound and proceeded to work through the rest of the inning without giving up any runs. Even in extreme pain and developing a massive bruise, Chutney gets the job done.

            While it may sometimes be hard to look past the in-your-face personality, it’s obvious that Chutney is the kind of guy that you want around. He’s a good teammate, a trustworthy person and just enjoys people. At some point during the game, almost every guy on the team came by to say something to him, as Chutney is easily the life of the dugout. He’s almost impossible to ignore, given that he’s always on the move and looking for something to do or someone to mess with. When it comes down to it, Chutney can focus if necessary, but the pitcher never stops talking, keeping the dugout alive and active.

            Baseball players tend to be known as fairly superstitious, and all of them have routines that help keep them focused and centered. It wasn’t until recently, however, that Chutney found out that he too had a routine.  A few of his teammates pointed out that when he takes the mound, Chutney always rubs his hand in the dirt and licks his fingers, which he didn’t even realize he did. This action is so ingrained that Chutney didn’t even notice he was doing this, and needless to say, he certainly doesn’t eat the dirt. With no other superstitions, Chutney doesn’t rely on much else to get the job done, with his goal every time he goes out just being to “throw strikes and keep it simple.”

            When asked what he would want to be remembered as once he leaves the game, Chutney wants to be known as a gamer. “Whether I throw my best stuff or my worst stuff, I want people to know that I competed every time I went out,” Chutney said. While his baseball future may not be fully mapped out yet as he continues on in his career, it’s obvious that his outgoing personality will keep him in the spotlight both on and off the field. For as long as he continues to play, “Chutnasty” will be the lifeblood of the team.

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