More Escobar fallout
Yunel Escobar was supposed to make his return to the Blue Jays’ lineup on Friday night following a three-game suspension but instead he found a seat on the bench. Toronto manager John Farrell met with Escobar on Friday afternoon and following that closed-door sitdown, it was decided that the Cuban shortstop needed at least one more day away from the game.
Here is the official reasoning behind the surprise decision:
On the decision to sit Yunel…
“When we met earlier today, it became increasingly clear during that discussion that he needs another day to get back and be ready to play a Major League game.”
More Yunel’s choice to sit out then?
“It wasn’t his choice. It became very clear during our discussions about all that has taken place, all that has potentially anticipated going forward, that he needs another day.”
Is that a result of something he did or didn’t do once getting to Florida?
“No, it’s not so much staying in shape or baseball activity, it’s just about how he’s dealing with the fallout of what he did. He’s remorseful for what took place and as a result he needs another day to get things in line.”
Has Yunel spoken to you about what he anticipates from the fans in Toronto?
“No, he hasn’t because I don’t think he fully understood the ramifications at the time of doing what he did. So this is all a first for him. Regardless of intent and all of the things that he has expressed, all of these experiences and the backlash that has taken place, I can tell you, on his part, have been unanticipated.”
Another meeting with Yunel tomorrow then?
“There’s nothing scheduled tomorrow. It’s anticipated and expected that he’d be ready to play tomorrow but if the case exists that he needs another day to get through this, we’ll be open minded of that move on.”
From the tone or the language used?
“Just a number of things that he’s processing right now.”
Based on what you’re saying then, it sounds like this has been mentally draining on him and has led to this decision?
“He’s remorseful, he understands that he made a mistake and regardless of what his initial thoughts were, those are drastically different than what he’s dealing with right now. He knows he made a mistake and he’s not ready to play a Major League game tonight.”
Were you almost like a father figure during this meeting?
“You deal with people, you manage people, you manage a game and they’re inter-related. It was clear in the discussion that he needs another day.”
It’s pretty obvious this has become pretty hard to deal with for him…
“Consequences exist for every action and these are the consequences he’s dealing with. That doesn’t mean we’re turning a cold shoulder to him but at the same time he’s coming to grips with the fallout and the backlash that has taken place. If that means dealing with others in the organization that are available, if in fact that is determined to be needed we’ll provide that for him. But we would expect in short order that he’ll be back on the field.”
You said this was your decision — did he want to play today?
“Through our discussions it was clear that he felt that he needed another day as well.”
Any of this a carryover from Tuesday’s news conference? Something that wasn’t done or said?
“I wouldn’t say it’s a carryover from the press conference. I will say that it’s a continuing process for Yunel now that he’s realizing what the backlash has been. It wasn’t something that he said or the way he came across, it’s the scope in which this has offended a large number of people. With all that feedback, he’s still processing it.”
Would anything have been done differently if Bautista was still around?
“No one saw it. I can’t say that is Jose was here that would have made a difference. That’s not to point the finger at Jose and say you’re going to keep everyone in line, that’s not the case at all. The fact is, it wasn’t seen and just so we’re clear, writing on eye-black patches is no longer permissible.
“That won’t be a case in the future and while you trust certain slogans aren’t going to be on display, you give players some freedom to play as they are as people, but as we talk about routinely, when being an individual takes away from the team concept, it’s our job to pull that back and that’s what we’re doing.”
On teammates’ reaction to this situation…
“There has been, from what I’ve seen, there has been a wide range of reactions. Surprise with the suspension because in their minds this wasn’t an issue. To the other end of the spectrum, that because of the issue, there have been a lot of questions that have been answered by other people inside of the clubhouse that otherwise might not want to answer them. But he’s a teammate and we can’t turn on a teammate, it is part of our family as the Blue Jays to support him, to correct what might need to be corrected and to move on together as a group.”
What does Yunel need to do, or show, to get back into the lineup?
“In talking with him, just a sense that he has some of these distractions under control. That he can focus on the task at hand once he gets back into the lineup. We recognize too that he’ll be a focal point and we spoke of that, how he plays, how he goes about his actions on the field, what some of the response might be from people in the crowd. That might be a further distraction if he’s not accepted for whatever performance he does on the field and know that that might be forthcoming.”
MLB changed the rule on eye black or the Blue Jays did?
“It’s been included in the equipment where no writing can be displayed on any type of equipment, including the eye-black patches.”
More on MLB banning written words on eye black…
“No, it’s not case by case. When you see either a number or initials in the batting gloves or sweatband, that has been pre-approved. So when you have a hand written slogan that’s on display, that’s above and beyond.”
Yunel Escobar (through interpreter Luis Rivera:
What have the last few days been like for you?
“It has been really tough on me. I haven’t slept well the last three or four days, I’ve been receiving a lot of calls from friends and family to give me some support but it has been hard for me knowing that I made a mistake, I hurt some people, it has been really hard for me.”
On Farrell keeping him out of the lineup…
“I’m living in a tough situation that happened, I put myself into it. It’s going to take a little awhile. I spent three days and today I took groundballs, I took groundballs yesterday, I took groundballs today and I’m going to start putting my mind back in the game today so that I can play a Major League game.”
Did you expect to be in the lineup tonight?
“I always come to the game thinking I’m going to in the lineup. But after I spent some time inside the clubhouse, all of the things that were going through my mind, it was better for me not to play tonight.”
How important is it to be back around your teammates?
“My teammates are like my family. We spend seven months together, we know each other really well. Those are the people who make my life a little more comfortable.”
Anything you’d like to say to the fans?
“I’m having a hard time dealing with the situations. I’m really sorry for what happened on the field … If I hurt somebody from the bottom of my heart I feel really sorry about it. I’m looking forward to meeting the people in Toronto and go from there.”
Important for you to finish the year strong?
“Always from Day 1, I always think about finishing strong every year and this is not an exception. I always try to finish strong so I can continue with my career.”
How long until you think you’ll be back in the lineup?
“In case they need me tonight, I might be able to play tonight, if not, tomorrow. Tomorrow I will hopefully be ready to play.”