Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Kenley Jansen briefly raised his arms while walking off the mound Wednesday, just after striking out Atlanta Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud to end the game. It didn't look like much of a celebration, but Jansen had just done something only six other pitchers in MLB history did before him: record his 400th career save.
— MLB (@MLB) May 11, 2023
Jansen, 35 and on his third team in three years, was overjoyed by his accomplishment, calling it "a moment I won't ever forget." Following the game, he was gifted a bass guitar, and the team played him a celebratory video featuring many of his previous teammates from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The congratulatory video shown to Kenley Jansen in the clubhouse after his 400th save included:
Joe Torre, AJ Ellis, Clayton Kershaw, Ozzie Albies, Russell Martin, Austin Barnes, Eric Gagne, Andruw Jones, Jurickson Profar, Jonathan Schoop, Rick Honeycutt, his wife and kids.
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) May 11, 2023
Hitting this milestone while pitching against the Braves was meaningful to Jansen. He grew up cheering for Atlanta and the team's gifted center fielder, fellow Curaçao native Andruw Jones.
"It can't be better coming against the team I grew up watching, loving, and I did it today here in their stadium," Jansen said via ESPN.
Jansen has dealt with a major health issue the past few years. A trip to Denver in 2018 triggered his atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), which he had surgery to fix in 2012. He struggled with the medications he took for the rest of the season and underwent a 5.5-hour heart procedure during the offseason. He showed up at spring training 25 pounds lighter and has had just one flare-up since then.
Now, not only has Jansen hit 400 saves (he's just 22 away from tying Billy Wagner in sixth place all time), but also he's hurling like a pitcher reborn. During the final at-bat of the game against d'Arnaud, Jansen hit 98.7 mph on the radar gun, the fastest pitch he has thrown since Aug. 27, 2016.
Jansen appeared on Thursday's episode of the "Baseball Isn't Boring" podcast and told the hosts he believes he's better than he has ever been. To get there, he credited his improved outlook and his decision to be serious about his mental health.