Patrick Reusse: For Jake and Janie Reed, their athletic careers are on hold together

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Janie Reed and her teammates on the U.S. Olympic softball team would have been three months into a “Stand Beside Her Tour” and taking a two-week break before resumption in Sacramento on May 17.

Jake Reed likely would have been a righthanded bullpen presence for the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings as they faced the Columbus Clippers early in a six-game homestand at Frontier Field.

Then again, the constant cries of “mayday” for bullpen assistance generally has started around May 1 for the Twins, and perhaps Jake would have refined his new approach of side-arming to the point that, at last, he would have been called to the manager’s office (Toby Gardenhire) and told to catch Delta Flight 2873 the next morning from Rochester, N.Y., to MSP.

Jake Reed was signed by the Twins as a fifth-round draft pick out of Oregon in 2014. He was in Class?AA by his second season and received an invitation to spring training in 2016. Since then, he has pitched in more than 100 games in the Rochester bullpen, but only Florida exhibitions in a big-league uniform.

Janie Reed, Jake’s wife, has waited longer to be an Olympian. She earned a place on Team USA as a college senior at Oregon in 2015. A lefty-hitting outfielder, she helped the U.S. to gold medals in the 2016 and ‘18 world championships, and to a silver and two golds in the Pan-Am Games of 2015, ‘17 and 2’19.

The Olympics? None had been available for softball players after 2008, as the sport was dropped from the IOC schedule along with baseball for 2012 (London) and 2016 (Rio de Janeiro). Those two sports are missing again in the 2024 schedule for the Paris Games, so this was the chance:

Tokyo 2020.

So meaningful was this Olympic opportunity that Cat Osterman, the 6-foot-2 lefthanded pitching legend, came out of retirement to claim a spot on a third Olympic team, after gold in 2004 and silver in 2008. She would be 38 when softball opened the entire Olympic schedule on July 22, a day before the Opening Ceremony.

And now Cat will be 39 and Janie Reed will be 28 when the rescheduled Tokyo Games begin in late July 2021.

“Once our tour was stopped on March 10, we were asking, ‘How are they going to get the Games played in 2020?’?” Janie said. “So, it was disappointing but not a surprise when they first announced a delay. and then that Tokyo’s Olympics were rescheduled for 2021.”

Janie Takeda hit .411 as a freshman standout for Oregon in 2012. Jake Reed started 17 games, going 8-4 with 2.92 ERA.

Jake signed with the Twins after his junior season in 2014, a year in which he was moved to the Ducks bullpen. The Twins were impressed enough from the early glimpse to send him to the Arizona Fall League and he was outstanding.

Janie led Oregon to the Women’s College World Series as a senior in 2015. She ended her career with school records for hits (309), runs (204), doubles (42), stolen bases (102) and as a three-time All-America.

The relationship started as Oregon athletes resulted in marriage in November 2017. Janie was in Seattle with the softball team in March when the tour was called off. She took a redeye to Fort Myers to stay with Jake, and almost immediately, spring training came to an end.

Janie had met a woman during a Bible study in Oklahoma. She remembered that the woman owned a place in San Diego near the ocean — and that it was rented during the baseball season by the Padres’ Wil Myers.

Contact was made. Myers didn’t need it, and the Bible study companion was extremely generous. The vagabonds from U.S. softball and Twins baseball headed for San Diego.

“If you’re in a semi-lockdown situation like we’ve been in California, it’s pretty much perfect,” said Jake, now 27. “My family lives here, and Janie’s family lives in Orange County. Her older sister Allison has a baby, Ryan … our first niece or nephew. There’s extra space in this house, so we’ve had family visits.

“I’m getting to work out with a world-class athlete. Janie has me running up hills and on the beach. They haven’t wanted you throwing in the parks out here, so I’ve been throwing into the same net that Janie uses for hitting.

“Doing the best we can.”

Janie appreciates the location for the same reason as do millions: “San Diego weather … it’s keeping me sane without softball.”

Things were going well in that area for Team USA before the shutdown. They were 15-0 against mostly strong college teams, and Janie was 21-for-44 (.477) with 19 runs scored.

A year ago, Jake said: “She’s definitely the best ballplayer in the family.”

That was recently updated: “Janie’s better than ever. She’s terrific.”


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