Here’s the full transcript in Q+A style of today’s scrum with Jose Bautista. He gives his thoughts on how the rehab from a sprained left wrist is going, about the Blue Jays activity at the trade deadline, on the lack of offense in recent games, plus his take on Yunel Escobar/Moises Sierra/Anthony Gose.
On how far the wrist has come…
“A long ways. It definitely feels much better but obviously with the type of injury in that area of a baseball player’s body and having to be able, or needing to be able to, handle a bat and swing it at high speeds with some weight on the bat, given that our bats are almost two pounds, is something that I don’t feel comfortable with going right now and saying that I’m able to play.
“I’m not going to start playing before I’m capable of doing what I can do. Or, I can help the team win games. I wouldn’t put myself in a situation to either hurt myself worse or help the team win games.”
Thoughts on the deadline…
“Not much has happened. Obviously we needed some bullpen help and we got some. So, that’s a real positive.”
On Yunel supposedly being disruptive in the clubhouse…
“It’s kind of upsetting because I know it’s just somebody making up rumors to diminish his value or just to ruin his reputation, in both case situations is pretty low of anybody to try to do that. I don’t see the reason why anybody would be targeting him personally and I’ve been his teammate for two and a half years now and I am the first one and attest that he is a great team player and he’s a great addition to any ballclub so we’re happy to have him and I’m glad to know and see that those were just rumors and I think he is one of the center pieces of this ballclub and I would hate to see him leave if he ever did. I wouldn’t want any other shortstop in the whole Major Leagues on my team that’s not him.”
On the amount of discomfort he feels in the wrist…
“Right now, nothing. But when I swing the bat, it’s some discomfort and the fact that that’s there, the recommendations from the hand specialist were not to push it too hard, too soon, so that’s what I’m going, taking it one day at a time. There’s no need to re-aggravate it, especially when I’m just hitting in the cage. I’m still ahead of the suggested gameplan according to the hand specialist.
“Their recommendations were initially to not even attempt to pick up a bat for two weeks and I’m at 16 days and I’m swinging in a cage with some liberty and somewhat of a free feel to my swing. It’s just that the speed of what I’m doing is not full speed. I’d say I’m still ahead of schedule and feeling good.”
On whether he envisions rehab games or do simulated work here…
“I don’t know, it will probably be a decision I would have to make later but my initial thought is if there’s enough games that I have missed and I do need any sort of playing time, my initial gut feeling is that I would rather do it somewhere else where I don’t disrupt the 25 guys that are here. Some teams have done it in the past and flown guys just to throw to somebody on the Major League team but that’s not what I would recommend.
“To me, initially, if I would only have to miss the exact 15 days of the DL stint I would have felt comfortable just going into the games right away. But obviously that timeframe is no longer realistic so it all depends on how many more games I miss. It will be addressed at the time, if I do need, and how many at-bats, and where it’s going to be depending on obviously where we’re playing at and where our upcoming games are going to be at.”
On whether offense struggling adds to his frustration level…
“I’m frustrated that I’m not out there and it’s frustrating to see our team lose any type of games. But it has been (three) games. It’s not something to freak out about or go thinking that the offense is not clicking. Sometimes you run into good pitching and that almost likely has been the case in the past (three) games. Guys have thrown good against us and there’s also been quite a few good plays made by the other team. This is a tough ballpark to score runs in. They’re a hot team, playing good, pitching good and hitting well. I don’t know, they have six or seven games that they have won in a row.
“Two games, is not that big of a deal, or nothing to be worried about. I think the most important game obviously is today and we have a chance to not get swept so I think that should be the main focus and then just take Oakland series for what it’s going to be. Obviously another team that’s playing good ball but a team that we feel confident enough that if we play up to our capabilities and execute when the game starts we should be able to beat them.”
Impressions on Anthony Gose…
“I think he is a player that brings a lot of energy, sort of like what Brett does. Just not as animated or as enthusiastic about it but nonetheless when he’s on the bases, he can disrupt the other team’s defense and how their approach to how they pitch to the guys that are batting and how they go about it as well and how quick their pitchers are going to work.
“That thought itself can get a pitcher off-track and help the guys at the plate. Defensively, he has done great I think. Obviously batting average wise, he’s not where he wants to be but it’s a small sample, that doesn’t mean anything.”
On talking to Moises after adventure on the bases…
“I don’t think it was an adventure. I think he stumbled around second base. He did get held up. Obviously I’m not going to recommend him doing that ever again but he knew where the ball was, the play was in front of him, it wasn’t behind him. He knew he could make it given his speed. So I think it was a great play that he scored. If he would have gotten thrown out maybe we’d be having a different discussions. But obviously he knows himself better than Butter and he thought he had it 100% and he did.
“I don’t think there was an adventure there but I do think I can help him out and others in any other aspect if they approach me or something kind of extraordinary happens and I feel like I need to put in my two cents, or I should. But that’s not the only reason I’m sticking around, I need to be with George (Poulis) and he’s taking care of my rehab and that’s where I feel comfort and that’s where he feels comfort so that’s why I’m here and not any other reason.”
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos had a conference call with reporters Tuesday to discuss the trade deadline — specifically the Travis Snider for Brad Lincoln deal – the bullpen, the rotation, and the promotion of Moises Sierra from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Was addressing the bullpen the focus?
“It’s not so much about focusing on one area. There is no doubt the bullpen for 2012 could still be improved, and even beyond that in 2013.
“Ultimately we had to go into an area of depth. You don’t necessarily want to trade the guys we did but you also understand we were going to have to give up value one way or the other.”
Do these trades address needs more for the future or now?
“I think it does both. I think if you look at our club right now, our offense, we have one of the better offenses in the entire game. We obviously dealt from a position of strength … We added two big league players to our bullpen.
“I think we’ve improved our club because of where we are positioned right now. I don’t think there is any doubt about that at all.”
Were you willing to take on a rental player?
“Oh, sure. We talked about a lot of players that were rentals. That was definitely not the focus. Ideally, everyone wants to get a great player with a lot of control. That’s obviously the player that every GM wants to have. … We talked about a number of players that were under short-term control — whether it be to the end of the year or one year beyond this year. We had a lot of dialogue there.”
Is Brad Lincoln someone that could start now or in the future?
“I don’t think we would ever rule it out because he has done it before but, when we looked at him, the primary appeal is his ability to pitch late innings. A power arm with swing and miss stuff and that was really what he was acquired for. Obviously there is added value, or the upside, maybe one day he would potentially be able to start.
“Again, that wasn’t the primary focus when we acquired him. … He was acquired to fill a late-inning relief role for us going forward.”
More on Lincoln: ”Our scouting reports are really high on him as a late-inning reliever.
“I don’t think we had anyone [scouts] that was not excited about him and the way he was throwing the ball. I think all our scouts felt pretty strongly about him. I think it was a unanimous, everyone felt that it was a very, very good talent for us.”
You traded Snider, an everyday outfielder, for a reliever. How do you balance value?
“Travis is hopefully on his way to being an everyday player and a good everyday player. He does a lot of things to help the team win. He’s a winning player and I think that is probably as big a compliment as you can give a player. Great teammate, work ethic, character .. it’s off the charts. He runs the bases, defensively, all those things. Tremendous power potential.
“We all know that the talent and the ability is there. At the same time, finding late-inning relief help isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do as well.
“I think Travis is someone with the potential and certainly the ability to become a very good everyday player. Being able to come back up here, [he] was just on his way to getting back on track to doing that. I know he hasn’t established himself to that yet but there is certainly the ability to do that.
“I think Brad Lincoln is the same way. He hasn’t been a bona fide late-inning guy right now but I think he’s well on his way to being able to do that. In terms of balance, I think you have to look at what makes sense for your club. We have needs there. … It made sense for us. I think from a value standpoint it was fair.”
On why the club likes Lincoln and Steve Delabar (who it acquired from Seattle for Eric Thames):
“I think there is no question we added bodies, two good bodies that have the ability to strike guys out which was important to us. Guys with above-average stuff and guys who have the chance to be here for a while. That can only improve our bullpen, especially with the number of free agents we have in our bullpen.”
Liked you’ve said before, the bullpen is a volatile area when you build a roster. How do you know what to give up for these guys?
“You aren’t going to get anybody for free, you are going to have to give up good talent.
“Two young talented players that were high picks that are just starting to establish themselves, maybe Travis a little bit behind because he just got back up. Brad has really had a nice year and has really started to emerge late in the year. I don’t know that either really are truly established. I guess you could say there is volatility to both guys with their careers and they are hopefully trying to establish themselves on both ends, for both teams.
“I think that is where there is a similarity there.”
Did you engage in talks for starting pitching?
“We did. I think we were involved in a lot of things. Starters, position players, anything that we felt could help our club. It does get a little frantic, I guess, especially as you get to today. Ideally you don’t want to necessarily have a lot of dialogue on the last day just because things do seem a little bit rushed when you have to get training staffs involved, doctors, things like that to review files. … I think we had pretty healthy dialogue in a number of areas because, obviously, we still have a number of areas we can improve on this club.
“Until you win the World Series, I don’t think you should ever be satisfied.”
Does the way that Laffey/Villanueva/Cecil have been throwing change way you looked at needs for SPs this season?
“No. Like you said they have done a very solid job for but, again, we definitely could improve in that area. That’s not to single anybody out. If you look at the numbers and where we rank, until you rank 1 you can always improve.”
Rotation wasn’t biggest area to address?
“I think there has been some stability. You look at the way guys like Laffey have performed — I know they haven’t done that in their career. But you look at just the numbers and what they’ve done since they’ve been in the rotation. You look at guys like Villanueva, an ERA below 3 — to be fair to him, I’m not expecting that necessarily to continue. Obviously Romero hit a rough patch and Alvarez has been hit and miss, but he’s someone we’ve seen how good he can be when he’s on his game. I think we did have some guys that really solidified themselves. Cecil, lately, has been solid. He has given us some quality starts. We acquired J.A. Happ, who we thought could be someone that could give us a hand in the rotation, and he is certainly available to do that. … I think we have stabilized the rotation more than anything else.”
“We really weren’t sure who was going to take that opportunity and run with him, and I think we finally found some stability there.
“Again, we still have issues long term. We can continue to look for more guys now. We can continue, obviously, in the offseason.”
Why is Happ not in rotation?
“Because I think we have had everyone else doing a solid job for us. Laffey has done a good job, Villanueva has done a good job. I think Alvarez has finally started to find himself and obviously Romero has certainly earned the right to throw in the rotation. I thought last night he looked a lot better. Obviously Brett, that last game in New York, I know the numbers weren’t good going into that start, and that last game in New York he had a quality start and beyond that he has continued to have quality starts for us.
“We are going to ride the hot hand. We have guys doing a good job and we will continue to ride those guys until we need to make a change.”
More of a sellers market value-wise compared to other years?
“It seemed as though, and maybe because maybe we weren’t sitting in the same place, it seemed as though there maybe was a little more dialogue than years past. … Most times we try to focus on a few items, maybe 1-3 things that we would like to get done … We really try to focus on getting those deals done.”
Close to anything today?
“We thought we were moving toward something late last night. We had a late night here, really late. Didn’t get a whole lot of sleep, and it carried over to the morning and ended up falling apart.”
What was the biggest need a month ago?
“We were always looking to add arms any way we could. … It was either in the bullpen or the rotation. We had needs in both areas.”
Who’s the left fielder of the future?
“Right now, it’s really open … I don’t know if we are really locked into anyone right now.
“A guy like Sierra is someone that we like as well. But again, he is behind the other two right now on the depth chart but we still feel we have some pretty good depth from an outfield standpoint.”
– Sierra is behind Gose and Davis on depth chart. AA mentioned that Davis could stay in the mix into next year, as the Blue Jays have a $3M club option on him.
Could there be a dynamic between Gose and Sierra like there was with Snider and Thames?
“I wouldn’t rule anything out, and obviously we have Rajai Davis as well. I don’t think we are going to lock ourselves into anything. … The only guarantees in our outfield right now are Jose Bautista in right field and Colby Rasmus in center.
“For me to sit here at the end of July and try to say who’s our left fielder going forward, when we have guys with options and control, it’s way too early to make a decision like that.”
What are the reports on Sierra?
“He is someone we have talked about earlier. There was even a point in time we talked about him last summer for a short period of time. He is someone who has been on the radar, he has been on the 40-man roster, he had a good year in New Hampshire last year. He has certainly done very well from a statistical standpoint in Las Vegas — defensively, he has been outstanding.
“It would be interesting to see him and Jose Bautista throwing from right field to compare the arm strength. He has as good an arm probably as any right fielder in the game. High-energy player.
“We think he has the type of upside to be a Nelson Cruz-type player. I know, obviously, Cruz is a bit of a late bloomer but his skill set and his tools certainly match that. Obviously he’s not there yet and he has to go out there and do it. We are high on him, we are excited about him.”
“I’m not sure exactly playing-time wise with Gose being up here and Rajai being on the team — John will make the decision there. But he’s on the 40-man roster, and being up here certainly won’t be bad for his development.”
What would you say to the fans that may have been expecting more?
“I guess just probably the same mantra I’ve always really talked about. We are always trying to continue to make the club better. We certainly aren’t going to make a move for the sake of making a move or make a ‘quote unquote splash’ for the sake of doing that. I think there is plenty of opportunities to do those type of things in free agency in the winter. I think the fans understand that we are ultimately doing what we think is best for the short and long term of the club.
“I don’t think anyone wants us to make a bad deal. We have the ability to make bad deals to make a splash and get a big name. A month later, two months, everyone will probably look back and say that was a mistake. I think the fans realize, and they certainly follow along in terms of making the right deal.”
On the main Blue Jays site you’ll find an article on general manager Alex Anthopoulos explaining what happened in the hours leading up to the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline, why some moves were made and others weren’t. You’ll also find a notebook with items on Moises Sierra making his Major League debut, Steve Delabar/Brad Lincoln talking about joining the Blue Jays, and Opening Day left fielder on the mixes emotions with facing his former club on Tuesday night.
Since there’s plenty of reading to do there, I’ll get straight to the leftovers. You can find a lot of the quotes below that didn’t make it into today’s articles:
Seems like it has been a whirlwind year for you so far…
“It’s funny you say that. I asked my wife, ‘You thought last year was kind of crazy and a wild ride, like now this year we’ve gone to Japan and been back and gone all over, been sent down, back up and now we’ve been traded midway through.’ And who knows what’s going to happen the rest of the season. Hopefully a playoff run and hopefully a chance to compete for the World Series. It’s been an amazing ride. All I can say is it’s been a lot of fun so far.”
Read that you went through an intense regimen to work your way back from the elbow injury…
“They are weighted balls. They look like baseballs, just different colours. It’s a weighted baseball program, built to strengthen the shoulder and also increase arm speed at the same time. It’s based off of getting kids to stay on the field longer. Stronger shoulder, healthier shoulder kids are going to be able to be able to throw a lot more and stay on the field longer.
“I actually did the program because I was going to teach the program. With a broken elbow, I didn’t know if I was going to play again. I just wanted to be able to teach this program that we had at the indoor facility where I’m from. I just wanted to teach it, so I said I’m going to do this program and I’m going to help these kids at our academy. Sure enough, it helped me.”
That was the rehab to get here?
“That wasn’t the rehab. It was a broken bone, so there’s really not too much you can do for a broken bone, except to just let it heal. As far as my professional baseball career, it was basically over. There wasn’t much I could do at 26-27 years-old. ‘Hey guys, I’ve never been above High-A. Do you want to give me a major-league job? It doesn’t work like that. I did this program on a whim to try and help some kids and it just helped me out.”
How did you become aware of that program?
“I learned it through the owner of the facility that I work at, Joe Newton. The Players’ Dugout, Elizabethtown, Kentucky. I’ve been working there for the last eight years and he knows a guy from Maryland, Jamie Evans. He came up with this program and said you’re never going to believe this thing. It’s awesome. He only had a few clients at the time, so it wasn’t a big product. I diod the program. We only had 19 kids last year and now we’ve got over 300 from this past off season and it’s going to grow even more than that.”
Did it increase velocity too?
“The velocity did go up. Before, I think I touched 94, mostly around 90-92, 93 maybe. Now I’m 94-97, running up there even higher some days when it’s nice and arm out.”
On the Baseball Academy he was working with….
“It’s still a work in progress. We’re trying to see how far it can go and spread the word, because obviously you think about a program and what I can gain from it, but really it’s we want to get it out there and stop seeing kids get hurt. Help your arm so kids don’t have problems when they’re 8-years-old.”
On he knew on the Blue Jays…
“I only knew the names. I’ve met mostly all the guys so far. Everybody’s great. I’ve only known them from across the field, but I’ll meet them a little bit more.”
On having an opportunity to solidify spot in the big leagues…
“I just want to come in when I’m called up and do the best I can. I have no say on anything that goes on as far as moves like that. I just try to get in and be as consistent as possible.”
On giving up a high number of home runs…
“I began working on a slider, a pitch that kind of can combat the right-handed hitters. Those are the guys that have been hitting hme runs. The main focus is to get that third pitch, or maybe just another pitch, that I can throw when I’m behind in the count, so those guys aren’t just sitting on fastball. Because when you’re supplying a lot of the power, all those guys have to do is catch up with it and it goes a long way.”
On familiarity with Toronto…
“I played in Quebec, in the Can-Am League in Ottawa. I played up there in ’08 and ’09. The fanbase is amazing and I saw it again yesterday here. It’s an incredible fan base. Somebody said, it’s one team representing a whole country, so that’s a huge fan base. I look forward to playing in front of the home crowd because they have such a huge energy.”
“I’ve struggled in my career as a starter at the big-league level. For me to go in the bullpen gave me the opportunity to show what I’m capable of, just go out there and attack guys and not be so scared of the bat, I guess I was scared of contact and trying not to let them get a hit. Now I’m going to come right at you and here’s my best stuff. That’s got my confidence where it needs to be.
“My mentality fits that pretty well. For me to use my stuff like I know how has been a long time coming. Now it’s finally starting to come together.
“It’s either time to put up or shut up. For me, at this time of my career, I’m going to have to start putting up numbers to stick around. That brought me to the realization now is the time to step it up.”
On getting a fresh start…
“It’s just a great opportunity. I felt like in Triple-A I had no idea what was going on, what was going to happen. Now, talking to the GM of the Seattle Mariners, and knowing it’s a fresh chance for a new start with a great band of teammates. It’s very exciting and you can’t help but feeling enthused. I really am, it’s a great opportunity for me to come here and play ball with a new team and develop with these players.”
On how difficult this season has been…
“It was very trying because it was my first time going through that media firestorm. It was different, it was a learning experience, I feel like I came out a better man and that’s the biggest result that I could ever ask for. Now, it’s just hit the ground running, keep learning, keep adapting to the game, keep learning from the veterans and it’s going to be very exciting.”
On when he found out about the deal…
“It happened in about the eighth inning last night. The team found out that Snider was traded to the Pirates. So, I was like, well does that mean I’m getting called up or what’s going to happen. I’m hitting in the middle of an at-bat and the coaches called for me to come in. I come in and they said, you’re going up, just relax.
“I went to change my stuff and they’re like, ‘hey, nevermind, you’re getting traded to Seattle.’ Just wait a few minutes, they’ll call you. It was weird. I had kind of an out of body experience. I had never been traded before, I grew up with a lot of those guys in the system. Going through that was definitely a unique experience but I’m very excited to be a part of this organization and ready to move forward.
On how weird it was that both he and Snider got traded in the same night…
“Somebody had a tweet and it was really funny. They said, ‘the battle for left field ends in a draw.’ We were both traded and I had a good laugh about that. It is what it is, teams change throughout the year and it’s just part of the business. Injuries happen and you just have to roll with the punches.”
On why he is so excited about the deal…
“There are a whole bunch of factors contributing to it. I’m on the West Coast again, I’m a San Jose, Calif. native. Fresh air, Vegas it’s hot desert air, it wasn’t good for me. To be out here with the trees and everything, great young group of guys, it’s going to be a great rest of the year for me.
“I think that’s the worst part is having me playing them. It’s great to see them and give them all hugs and see their smiles. It’s great but I know these guys so it’s going to be a weird feeling tonight.”
On what the two trades mean for the bullpen…
“There are two components, one is a short-term one, and it bolsters our bullpen now, and with their age and years remaining under contract, there’s an eye to the bigger picture, as well.
“This answers some of those questions going forward of who you can build with.
On how difficult it was getting through with the arms available after injuries began to set in…
“There was a dropoff in terms of dependability and really Major League experience and consistency when we looked at three or four guys we’d go to in games we were either down a run or tied or ahead versus some others. It probably, because of that limited group, caused overuse on Frasor’s part and unfortunately we’re all paying the price of his absence, but the additions have given us much more depth and the ability to keep games closer in those days when we’re maybe down a run or two, with the potential of scoring some runs late.”
On when Bautista will be back…
“We envision it hopefully toward the end of this road trip but that’s a best case scenario in our minds. We have to make sure every step is complete along the way with Jose.”
On rotation with Morrow coming back in August and Happ waiting in the wings…
“Brandon’s not coming back and going to the bullpen. When he’s built up enough he’ll be inserted right back into the rotation. While J.A. might have some frustration with the current role, and that’s understandable, that’s where he is currently, we know there’s very capable ability to be back in the rotation once the need occurs. The greatest challenge for any player is aligning their own personal goals with that of the organization, that’s always a give and take along the way.”
In another deal on Monday night, the Blue Jays added right-hander Steve Delabar for Eric Thames. Here’s what Delabar had to say about going from the home team clubhouse at Safeco Field to the visitor’s one:
“I walked in and we were about to celebrate Iwakuma’s game and Luetge’s first save and I got pulled aside and was told I was heading over to the other clubhouse.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone yet.
“The Blue Jays have a pretty good team, they swing it, have a lot of power hitters in their lineup, and that’s about all I know right now. I guess I’m supposed to go over there and help them out.
“Last year, moving through all the levels, you’ve got to meet new guys and form relationships and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the same situation over there, get in, get to learn everybody and the way they work and feed into the same thing they do.
“Fastball, splitter and slider, just try to go right after guys and attack them.
Style? “I’m just looking to pound the zone and hopefully things will work out on my side.
Emotions for team that gave him his break? “I thanked them for what they let me do and giving me the opportunity to get up here. Emotions right now, I’m really up in the air, I don’t know what kind of role I’m going to have or what it’s going to be over there. I just know it’s going to be out of the bullpen.
Like Ichiro, walk across? “There’s a lot of stir recently about things happening, so you’re kind of on your toes and you know this might be a possibility. You take it in stride and go with it.
The Blue Jays traded outfielder Travis Snider to Pittsburgh on Monday night for right-handed reliever Brad Lincoln. I’ll have plenty of reaction to the deal a little later but here’s a quick Q+A with Snider as he reacts to the deal:
Catch you by surprise?
“Yeah. Trade deadline, you expect moves to be made, you never know if it’s going to be you. First of all, thank you to everybody in Toronto, the organization, the fans and can’t say thank you enough for sticking with me through this journey and looking forward to a new opportunity.”
Thoughts on the move…
“Definitely a lot of good relationships I developed throughout this organization, all the way through the Minor League coaches, up to the front office. To be saying goodbye to those guys is tough, but as I move forward in my life on this journey, it’s taking things one day at a time and embracing a new opportunity.”
You looked a little stunned in the dugout…
“I haven’t really been called off the field like that before so I really didn’t know what was going on. I thought maybe it was a lineup mistake or something like that. But, again, you know at this time of the year things are going to happen and really just wanted to get an opportunity to say goodbye to some of those guys. Every guy on that team, played hard for him, great group of guys and I’m going to miss them.”
Talked to Huntington yet?
“Yes, just briefly, trying to get travel information and things figured out but nothing more than that.”
Looking forward to new opportunity?
“Experiencing what I have, I’ve definitely learned a lot from that and moving forward, the mindset has to stay the same, same as when I got called up this last time. What I’ve worked hard to develop is to take things one day at a time and controlling what I can control. I’m going to work hard for the Pittsburgh Pirates and go out there and play hard every day.”
Reaction to going to Pittsburgh and being in a playoff race?
“I’m excited to be a part of a contending organization. Opportunity to play in October is what we all dream about. It’s tough to say goodbye but at the same time I’m excited for the new opportunity.”
The Blue Jays bullpen added a couple of healthy arms on Saturday when right-hander Brandon Lyon and left-hander J.A. Happ arrived following Friday’s 10-player deal with Houston. The timing couldn’t be any better considering Toronto lost yet another arm when Jason Frasor when placed on the 15-day disabled list with tightness in his right forearm.
Toronto now has nine pitchers on the disabled list in a season that seems to have more injury news with every passing week. The Blue Jays aren’t alone in their injury woes as many other clubs around Major League Baseball are suffering from similar fates but I personally haven’t seen anything quite like this.
Here’s what Lyon and Happ had to say about joing the Blue Jays…
Back to where it all began…
“It’s exciting. I’m excited to be back here. I see a lot of familiar faces around here. I’m just excited to be part of this organization again and be out here to try and win games and help them.”
On the injuries…
“I’m here to do whatever I can to help this team win in any situation. Any time they call down and put me in I’m going to go out there and do what I do, throw strikes and put the pressure on hitters and let the defense help me as much as I can.”
Houston rebuilding mode so this probably didn’t come as a total shock…
“I think all of us, all of the veterans, all of the people around there heard the rumors or heard a lot of the talk about rebuilding for the future. They kind of wanted to see how this year played out. It didn’t really come as a shock that I got traded. Maybe the timing of it, the reality of it, when you get the phone call but I had a great time there. The organization gave me a great opportunity to go there and I spent almost three seasons there so it definitely has a place in my heart but it’s time to move on and do what I can here to help this team.”
Easier to go back to a place you’ve been…
“I think so. It makes it easier for me. Obviously feeling for Jay right now, I don’t think he knows many people around here. At least I can come in here, I can see a few faces that I’ve seen in the past and it does make it a little bit easier but any time you have to switch teams and go through the whole meeting new teammates. It’s uncomfortable for a few days but once the game starts, you’re playing baseball, you might just have a different uniform on. It will be a lot easier once the game starts for everybody in this situation go just go out there and do what you can to help the team get some outs and help the team win a baseball game.”
What can be expected of J.A….
“I haven’t seen Jay pitch out of the bullpen, I’ve seen him as a starter since I’ve been with him in Houston. He definitely has great stuff. He commands the zone really well, has a great breaking ball and he’s an aggressive pitcher. He throws strikes out there and is really great at what he does. It will be interesting to see him come out of the ‘pen maybe with a little bit of an extra gear coming out of there. Maybe a tick or two higher on the velocity gun but we’ll see. I’m excited to see that happen to see what he can do for this team too.”
How different are you compared to your first go-around with the Blue Jays…
“Very different. I’ve developed, where back then you get into some situations as a youngster and you don’t really know how to get out of them and you try too hard. I’ve learned from those situations and what to expect. I’ve been in almost every situation I’d have to say, coming out of the bullpen, tied games, down runs, big situations bases loaded. You just refer back to that memory bank and try to focus on every situation what you think you need to do to get out of it.”
Anyone talked about your role…
“No. I haven’t really sat down with them, I just barely got here about half an hour ago. I met John, I haven’t met Alex yet. I’m excited to meet everybody. New faces and a new team. I’m excited to get going.”
Getting into a playoff race…
“It has been a little while since we’ve kind of been in a situation like this. So I’m excited, I’m excited to get out there and obviously see what I can do and get that adrenaline flow. It’s a little bit different of an adrenaline flow when you have the game on the line in situations where teams are just trying to get a win. I’m excited for it, I can’t wait to get out there.”
Being in AL East…
“It’s prime time out here. The time, obviously everybody on the West Coast gets to see the games, nobody on the East Coast gets to see the West Coast games. I’m just excited, you see a lot of the publicity because of the time zones and the teams that are in the AL East. It’s live and die by every pitch here at Fenway. I’m excited to be here in this atmosphere, especially coming from a team that’s in a rebuilding stage and being able to get back into this division.”
What’s your repertoire now…
“Same things I did before. Instead of a slider that I had as a starter, I use more of a cutter now. Still fastball, curveball, changeup, cutter. Same things, just use them in different situations. As a starter I was more of a sinker baller and trying to get groundballs. Now I use my cutter and curveball quite a bit. I’m more of a fly ball pitcher than I used to be the last time I was here. My mentality is the same, go out and throw strikes and put pressure on the hitters.”
“It did come as a surprise. I had no idea. But it’s always nice to go to a place that wants you, so I’m excited for the opportunity.”
“I’m not sure. I think it’s a kind of play-it-by-ear type of thing. I know I’m going to be in the bullpen to start and we’ll kind of see where it goes from there. But hopefully I can contribute.”
“He said he really liked his time here. I know it was a little while ago, at the beginning of his career, but I’ve heard a lot of guys who played in Toronto say they liked it. I’m sure it’s going to be an adjustment, but, just take it as it comes.”
“Yeah, that’s what I’m most comfortable with. It’s what I’ve done most. I don’t want to make any waves, cause any waves, but that’s where I see myself being and hopefully they do too at some point.”
“I’m just a guy, like a lot of guys, who tries to get ahead and I’m most effective when I get ahead in the count and try to pound the strike zone, so that’s kind of goal number one for me when I go out there.”
“I throw some two-seamers. Fastball, curveball, little cut-slider and changeup.”
- “go-to” pitch might be cutter, “Depends on the day, I guess.”
“I definitely hope so [see something in you]. Like I said, I was not expecting it, but again to have someone want you and go try to get you is a good thing.”
“I’m going to try and I know we’ve got some guys in the bullpen here that have done it for a while so I’ll rely on them a little bit. In ’09 I relieved a little bit in the postseason and in ’08 I relieved a little bit also. Try to use that if I can.”
Rebuilding to now in the thick of it?
“I think it’s going to be fun. I certainly hope so. It can get a little bit overwhelming losing on a consistent basis, so I think it’s going to be a good opportunity.”
How has this year gone for you?
“I feel like I kept us in a lot of ballgames. I had a few ballgames that weren’t so pretty and numbers-wise kind of hurt a little bit. But other than that I feel like I was keeping us in the ballgame a lot.”
Now vs. Philly?
“I like to think I’m similar. My mechanics may have changed a little bit, but that’s kind of the guy that I want to be. The more that I can be like that, the better.”
“Just kind of toned it down a little bit. Maybe not quite as high of a leg-kick. It’s a constant thing of trying to change stuff and tweak things a little bit. Especially over the last two years, I’ve been trying to get it where I can be consistently repeating my delivery. I think I’m in a place where I feel good with it, where I can consistently throw strikes.”
On the main site you will find an article on Travis Snider finally getting another chance to prove his worth at the Major League level. Here are some of the quotes that didn’t make it into the piece:
How tough has this season been for you…
“Not as bad as years past. It might sound different or unexpected, but what I’ve gone through in life not only outside of baseball but in baseball prepares me for these tests that life is going to bring, whether it’s baseball or injuries or family situation or whatever, it’s understanding what I can control and that’s my mindset. Inner peace and happiness is not something that’s going to be affected by things that go on outside.”
On reaction to others being called up before him…
“We as athletes, we want to be there, we want to get that call but understanding what I can control, I think most recently when Anthony got called up, I watched what Anthony went through this year, I saw how hard he worked and he deserved it. Whether that put me in a different position with the organization, I can’t speak on behalf of the decisions they make, they have a reason for doing everything they do, so for me it’s to come here and focus on what I can control, my routine, my mindset and going out there and playing right.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow when opportunities aren’t handed to you like they were in the past. And I said earlier this year I know I’m not the Golden Boy, I’m not the 20-, 21-year-old kid again, but it’s a good learning process for me, a chance to grow up, a chance to mature, a chance to hopefully give somebody somewhere outside this clubhouse, or even in this clubhouse, a perspective on how you can deal with things in life, and what it takes each and every day to wake up and maintain that focus on what you can control.”
On having more time to get adjusted to mechanical adjustments at the plate…
“Coming back from the injury, just getting back in the swing of things, and then really honing back in on the approach, I think moving forward that’s going to be the key. There’s going to be adjustments to be made, you play 162 games, things are going to break down and that’s when you change up your routine a little bit to get the results you’re looking for. I feel comfortable with what I’ve been doing all season and maintaining that focus on the approach, what pitch I’m looking to hit based on the situation and who’s on the mound, and really taking the thought into that instead of where my hands are or how I’m striding, or if I’m open or closed.”
How’s the wrist…
“I’ve been healthy since I came back to Vegas. It was frustrating because I took about a week, week and a half, thinking that I could come back and work through some pain and as we upped the workload the pain increased and that’s when I had to say, okay I need to get an extended period of time to rest. They sent me to Florida, I’ve done that before, I know what that’s about. A great staff down there, we were able to get things wrapped up quicker than in years past when I’ve had the wrist injuries that I’ve dealt with and really just get back to Vegas and playing baseball and getting back into the swing of things and picking up where I left off.”
What makes you think you’re better prepared now…
“I think it’s the mindset. It’s something that you guys are going to hear a lot from me but it’s really something I’ve had to work hard on. In offseasons in the past, there has been frustrations, there has been emotions as a young man in this game and dealing with the ups and downs that I have. It’s how do you deal with those, how do you move forward and I could walk around with a chip on my shoulder and be bitter at the world and be angry every morning that this didn’t work out my way or why did I get hurt here. But, timing and those kind of things are out of my control and like I said, prepare myself each and every day, come to the park with the right attitude and the old saying, just do whatever I can to help the team win.”
This season that mentality set in?
“I’d say this offseason. Going the last few years, injury, poor play, and up and down, up and down, up and down. It takes a toll on anybody whether you’re 21, 22, 23 or you’re 28, 29, 30 years old. Gaining that perspective from being around guys in Triple-A, who have a different situation in terms of how many years they’ve been playing or having families and kids, and other things that they have to worry about and really realizing how much I have to be thankful for. Even though this isn’t how I would have drawn it up, I think a lot of people wouldn’t have drawn it up like this, that’s life and understanding I have more time on this earth and I don’t want to walk around being angry at the world. I’ve done that in my life and that’s something I’ve had to work hard on to overcome and really just put myself in a position to wake up each and every day to be thankful for what I have.”
How much do you think some of the struggles on the field have been mental as opposed to physical?
“I think it’s definitely gone hand in hand. Dealing with a few injuries and whether you’re injured and you come back and things aren’t quite right. You start to struggle a little bit. Or just flat-out struggling, as I have at points in my career. And I think going through those at a young age, being 24 years old, it seems like I’ve been doing this for a lot longer than I have, in terms of how many years I’ve been on this earth. But I think those are all things that are going to build for me for the future and those experiences gained now are going to pay off in the long run.”
You were the No. 2 trending topic in Canada last night on Twitter. Fans have been following you pretty crazily for a long time but the popularity, what’s that like for you, when people are so interested in you coming up at this point?
“I think popularity is the wrong word. We all remember being in high school and wanting to be the popular kid and being the star athlete, and you experience that when you get to the major-league level you start being recognized and people really take a genuine interest in what’s going on in your career or your personal life. One thing I do want to say is thank you to every fan out there that has supported me through this process and this journey. I think that you can’t be thankful enough for those people that are pulling for you, whether it’s in the great country of Canada or back home in Mill Creek and in Washington, the great support system that I’ve had. For me that’s what keeps it in perspective and understanding that there’s a lot of people out there pulling for me, a lot of people that believe in me and I’m here to play baseball.”
Throughout this whole process has there been any time when you questioned your own ability? Have you ever wondered, ‘Am I really a major leaguer?
“When you struggle you’re going to have thoughts arise and you’re going to have those obstacles that you have to overcome, and it’s not to say, I woke up and was like, ‘Man, I don’t think I can play in the major leagues.’ It’s more, ‘Okay, I got to get away from some of the excuses and some of the crutches, some of the ups and downs and injuries and things like that,’ and focus my mindset on the present moment. I can’t go back and change what happened in 2009 or 2010 or even 2011. It’s 2012, we’re here in Boston and I’m ready to go. I’ve tried to move past what I’ve experienced from carrying that with me, other than in terms of as a learning experience and character building.”
You hit the home run yesterday and was it right after that you got removed from the game?
“It was shortly after. We had a pretty good rally going in the first inning. We were down by six, then led off the inning and three batters later they said, ‘Go pack your stuff.’”
So it wasn’t right after you came off the field, right after you crossed home plate?
“No, it wasn’t like, ‘You hit a home run, you’re out of here.’ I was in the dugout. I was actually getting ready; I was getting another at-bat that inning. We actually put together a pretty good run in that first inning. They tell you, go pack your stuff, we’ll let you know what’s going on. That’s why we can’t jump on Twitter or Facebook or anything like that and say ‘This is what’s happening.’ There’s deals to be made and things to be handled and allow the organization to announce those things.”
Lots of fallout today from the surprising 10-player deal between Toronto and Houston. The move caught a lot of people by surprise, including those in the Blue Jays clubhouse. I’ll try to find the time later tonight or tomorrow for my own personal analysis of the deal but I’ve been busy gathering reaction from others on the deal.
Here’s what Alex Anthopoulos, John Farrell, Ricky Romero, Bruce Walton and Casey Janssen had to say about today’s events:
Reasoning behind the deal…
“Getting J.A. Happ, having two years of control beyond this year, arb eligible, the fact that he’s been a starter, thrown out of the bullpen in the past as well. Just all those things. We need some depth going forward for the current year and even beyond. There’s a fairly significant gap for us between some of our higher end prospects at low-a and obviously the guys that are up here right now. Our depth has really been attacked.
“We like Happ’s ability to strike guys out. We think it’s very similar to when we got Carlos Villanueva a few years ago and we think there’s a little bit of upside to him. A guy like Brandon Lyon’s been having a solid year, he’s been hurt in the past, Cordero hasn’t obviously pitched as well as he’s capable of and we think swapping out Lyon with Cordero will help our ‘pen for the current year and a guy like David Carpenter is someone we liked at the end of last year, I know he hasn’t been up with the Astros very long and he was sent back down but he’s a guy with pretty good arm-strength, again he’s got some upside, some ability to control him with options, things like that, we’re always looking to get some young, relievers with options as well.
“I know there’s a lot of players involved in this deal. I think it looks like a greater deal because of the quantity of players, but at the end of the day we gave up some guys in a-ball we think have the chance to be alright and we got some much needed depth for us that can help for the current year and moving forward.”
On how long in the making it was…
“It came together recently but we’re in dialogue all the time and we had asked the Astros about Happ and just felt he’d be a good fit for us, the fact that he can start, he can relieve, again knowing that we have some control over him, again, we’re always going to need more than five starters. Right now he’s going to be in our bullpen to start but I don’t know if we can count on all five guys to remain in the rotation the whole time, so if we need to make a change in the rotation or someone falters, he’ll obviously be a guy who’ll get one of the first opportunities to go back into the starting role. Expect both players to report tomorrow, Carpenter will go to Vegas. We’ll be able to get our hands on him and watch him a little bit, but again, both Happ and Lyon will start in the bullpen.
Why not start Happ in the rotation…
“It’s really start-to-start with a lot of these guys. If you look at the numbers overall, obviously Carlos has done a good job in the rotation, Aaron Laffey has done a good job in the rotation, Cecil – who’s getting hit a little bit – I thought he battled and did a solid job against New York so he certainly deserves to get another start, I think Alvarez has certainly come around as well so it doesn’t mean he’ll be in the bullpen for a long time. I told Jay (Happ) that the opportunity could present itself at any time. We’re going to go with the hot hand like we’ve done in the bullpen. When someone falters or someone does not do well, J.A. will be waiting in the wings to get his opportunity. My hope is that we don’t have to make any changes, just we’ll put up zeroes but the reality is that’s not likely going to happen. I think he’ll get an opportunity before it’s all said and done.
On whether there was anything that either side had to have to make this happen…
“No, I think it was just one of those things, again, we didn’t want to give up any of our top guys so I think what it came down to was trying to add some depth. They needed some depth. Obviously there’s strength in numbers from that standpoint and if they weren’t going to get one of our top guys or someone that we viewed that way I think it was more about getting quantity for them and for us getting a guy like carpenter put in the deal, he’s young, got a good arm, again we think has a chance to develop into a solid reliever.
“At the end of the day we traded a bunch of kids that certainly have a lot of talent, but we have two guys that are for us, big-league players for more of the long term in Happ and Carpenter and certainly a guy like Lyon. We’re getting potentially if Carpenter does find his way back up here, three big league players to have give up some kids in the minor leagues in a-ball, seemed like a fair trade off for both sides.”
On when the player-to-be-named later will be determined…
“We’ll have it done by the end of August.”
On the financial implications…
“We’re taking on a little bit of salary, probably a little over $700,000.”
“Any time you acquire depth, guys with veteran experience, it gives you tons of options going forward from here in what we can do with our rotation, and our bullpen.
“We’ve seen what it does with Carlos, you see how important he’s turned out to be for the club. That swing guy is huge.
“Brandon will fit in there fine. He’s a warrior, down there, he’s been around and he knows how to pitch. He’ll help out great with the three guys we have down there.”
On help coming for the bullpen…
“We needed some help down there and I don’t know much about either one of them really, it’s kind of just hit me, but I know Lyon’s a late-inning guy that we can count on, which we’ve kind of desperately needed a little bit and Happ, I know he has starter experience, I don’t know much about him in the bullpen, but if you can get outs we’ll take you bullpen or starting.”
On easing the workload of Janssen/Frasor/Oliver…
“Hopefully it gives John options. Hopefully it takes a little bit off of us but at the same time, I don’t think anybody’s packing it in and we need to stay in those games that are tight and hopefully these arms can give our offense a chance.”
On what it means for the clubhouse…
“I think it shows that they’re trying upstairs. You hate to say it, because I don’t really know much about the prospects, but I’m kind of a guy, by the time those prospects got to the big leagues, who knows where I’m going to be. I’m a big play for the now as opposed towards the future and I think that this move is showing that we’re going to try for this year.”
“It’s always tough to see your teammates go. I know Coco is having a tough year but at the same time, no one saw how he was in the clubhouse. He was such a great guy along with Benny. As far as the trade, it’s a business and I feel like the guys that we got are definitely going to be a big help to this team. We got a young pitcher in Happ coming up and a veteran guy in Brandon. I’m looking forward to it.”
Lack of depth seemed like a problem after the injuries…
“I think it will definitely help the team and like I said, we’re getting some good pitchers and looking forward to playing ith them and seeing what they got. I know a little bit about Happ, obviously just watching him, he pitched a few years ago against us when he was with Philly and looking forward to it.”
What kind of effect on the clubhouse…
“We might be in last place right now but the Wild Card is still there. We’ve got two, two and a half months left of baseball and any time you’re able to make a move like that to help the team out, I’m all for it. Hopefully those guys can contribute and we can start winning games and get back on this.”
The Blue Jays nightmare of constant injuries continued on Monday night when Jose Bautista was forced to leave during the eighth inning against New York because of a left wrist injury. There were initial fears that the wrist might be broken or at the very least some significant damage had been done to the ligaments in the area.
Those concerns were alleviated after an X-ray came back negative after the game while a follow-up MRI on Tuesday did not reveal any structural damage. Bautista was still placed on the 15-day DL but appears to have avoided a serious setback, which could have cost him the rest of the season.
For now, Bautista remains optimistic that he will be ready to return once the 15 days expires but that will ultimately depend on how quickly the pain subsides. Here’s what Bautista had to say about the injury and the looming rehab on Tuesday afternoon:
“It was just an aggressive 2-0 swing. I got a good pitch to hit. I managed to hit it but it went foul and just as I was finishing my swing I felt something weird around my wrist and on the recall is when I felt a sharp pain. So, obviously it was a little scary at the time. You can’t help but think the worst but bottom line is that I got examined, I got X-rays and an MRI, there’s not much structural damage just some irritation around the joint. So, it’s a wrist strain and obviously I won’t be able to pick up the bat for a couple of days but we’re going to take it day-by-day and go through all the treatment necessary to get back onto the field, without rushing anything, but as quickly as possible.”
Wrist issues before?
“I got hurt in Winter Ball once, back maybe in 2004 or 2005. But it was totally different injury, it was to a ligament and that was worse. But nothing along those lines, it was a total different injury, total different spot and not quite as bad.”
Was there any hope of being able to avoid DL?
“It was a possibility but due to the pain that’s around the area right now and the possibility of re-aggravating it and making it worse. They thought, there was no need to take that risk.”
“Treatment right away. I’m already on some medication to alleviate the inflammation and just go through the treatment. There are no tears and there are no structural damage so I can go ahead and start full treatment on it. I just can’t do any strength exercises for a couple of days.”
“Yeah, when I move it in certain directions it’s pretty tough. But that’s what I have to avoid, that’s why I’m wearing a sprint to protect the area too from bumping it against anything. As long as I don’t move it in certain directions I’ll be fine.”
Feel something before?
“No, just on that swing, had nothing to do with anything earlier. It’s funny that I’ve read a couple of things about the Derby or the slide at the plate. It has nothing to do with either of those two things.”
Relief no structural damage?
“It was a big relief. When it happened you always think the worst. I thought I had torn something or maybe had broken my wrist but that’s not the case and I’m happy to know that.”
No structural damage at all?
Have you seen video? Identify anything different?
“The only thing that I can think of is that I hung on with both hands maybe longer than I usually do. Maybe my wrist got turned in a direction that it never gets turned. That maybe put too much stress in the area and maybe kind of hyperextended it. It’s just a strain, in an area where luckily no ligaments were damaged but it did get irritated.”
Just a fluke thing?
“Yeah, just held on too long with two hands in a weird, awkward position and it’s just one of those freak things you can’t control or predict. It’s just unfortunate that it happened in such an important part of the season and in such an important game.”
Tough to deal with not being in lineup now?
“It’s going to be tough just sitting in the dugout. I don’t know what I’m going to be thinking about doing or doing during the games. I’m going to be biting all of my nails. I’m definitely going to have to find something to do but I’m going to be here pulling for the guys and trying to help out in any way that I can.”
Big blow to this team but guys here that can step up?
“Yeah, I’m not too worried about that. I think this is a pretty good team and by no means I feel like I’m the only one that’s capable of doing anything here. I think we can beat other teams with the guys that we’re going to have on the field that’s for sure.”
Doctors give you any idea of how long this will take?
“It’s all about pain tolerance since there’s no structural damage. It’s what it is, a strain, just like tweaking your hamstring or something. As long as you can tolerate the pain, I’m not going to make it any worse unless I do too much, too soon. I’ll let pain dictate what I can do and hopefully two weeks is enough, I’m thinking it will be.”
Knowing what Edwin’s gone through.. has he given any advice?
“There’s always talk and people recommend stuff but every injury is different and every person is different. I have no reason to believe this injury will be anywhere similar to anybody else’s past injuries. Again, pain for me is going to dictate what I can and cannot do and I’m just going to take it one day at a time.”
Major League Baseball’s deadline to reach an agreement with this year’s Draft picks was scheduled for Friday night. The Blue Jays weren’t expected to make any last-minute signings and in part because they already had each of their picks taken in the Top 10 rounders under contract.
Here’s what Anthopoulos had to say about this year’s Draft strategy plus leftovers from yesterday’s news conference about Edwin Encarnacion’s new three-year, $27-million contract:
On paying the tax to go overslot in this year’s Draft…
“The tax was fine. I don’t want to minimize it but that’s OK. We don’t want to lose picks. The opportunity to select in an area is worth whatever the tax was going to be. And we factored for it, we wanted to allocate for it, we weren’t geared toward spending that way but if it had to work out that way, we had the ability.
“We weren’t going to not sign a player because of the tax, we were going to not sign players if it meant forfeiting a draft pick the following year.”
Same strategy in the future without having luxury of extra compensatory picks?
“We’re not going to have the same pool of money because of all those extra picks. Now, Round 2 will be significantly higher next year because we had about 30 sandwich picks, you’re not going to have those any more, the sandwich round really became a full round, that’s going to shrink. You’re still going to have very good talent in the top three rounds because the picks are going to be higher.
“You could but rounds four, five, six, you’re not going to have that much bonus money to work with. It was an approach based on the talent that was there and what was available. If there’s no one there sitting on the board, we’re not going to do it.
“It just worked out that Smoral was sitting there. At the beginning of the year he was a guy we would have considered with our first pick, breaks his foot, slides, he’s sitting there, he wants $2 million. Would you trade your fourth, fifth and sixth round picks and second-round (money) for Smoral? That’s the thought process. We’d check the board, what’s left, what’s the draft look like for those rounds? That’s not to say it’s going to work out that way the following year. Maybe we’ll just try to take a big guy in round one, it depends who slides to you, maybe you don’t want to sign the player, maybe you want to defer the pick to the next year, there’s a lot of ways to approach. But it’s absolutely predicated on what talent is available in the draft. I don’t think there’s a flat strategy.”
Dyson/Loup… Do you need a look for next year too?
“That will be a by-product of it, but this isn’t a September look. We have needs, our minor-league people are telling us these are the best guys right now to give them a shot. If the by-product of that is we get to find out and someone pops, someone clicks, great. We all know relievers go up and down.”
Better than signing a veteran?
“We look at everyone who becomes available and ask is that person better than so and so? Bring a guy in and no-one believes in him, your scouts and so on, to pass over someone you have internally, then you have to release him or cut him loose, why go through all the trouble.”
“They said he could pitch, he was solid, but no one felt he was an upgrade over what we had here. That’s what we told him, if the people down there who have seen everybody we’ve called up here fell that you’re better, we’ll make the move.”
Leftovers from Anthopoulos’ news conference to announce signing of Encarnacion to a three-year deal:
“He has been here for quite some time, and been through some ups and downs, but we’ve really seen him grow as a player, grow as someone who quietly leads in the clubhouse, and as well very-well respected.
“The ability has always been there. I think it finally started to show itself at the end of last year, and currently now. The fact that Edwin wanted to be here and wanted stay here — and we obviously wanted him to stay — it was no-brainer for us to try to get this done.”
How important was this to get this done by the trade deadline and end the rumors?
“The rumors and things like that’s just par for the course, it comes with the territory. We didn’t have any intention of trading Edwin, it was someone we wanted to keep here. He has really emerged as a middle -of-the-order bat. you look at how our offense has developed this year, it has become a strength of this club.
“Making sure that Edwin is going to be here long term, we’ve really solidified that for the next few years. Our offense is in a very good position moving forward the next few years. It allows me, from a front office standpoint, and our staff, to focus a little bit more on helping out the bullpen, helping out the rotation. It is not to say we would ever forgo adding a bat if we could. But I think it is a strength and he is a big part of that strength in the middle of the order.
“From my standpoint, I prefer not to do these during the year. They are a distraction. If we do, we want to do them very quietly and fast. I think that is why the All-Star break was so important — it was an opportunity to do it quietly, quickly, and find out if it can get done or not”
Did this move fast?
“I think so. Edwin’s agent, Paul [Kinzer], we have done deals with him in the past — pretty straight shooter. I think the market for Edwin based on the year, we don’t know certainly what he is going to do the next two or three months, but I think there were enough comparables that it was a matter of trying to get close. I think both sides, you never get the exact number, whether it is years or dollars. But, at the end of the day, if he wanted to be here and we wanted him to be here, we were going come to an agreement one way or the other, and I think we were able to do it very quickly based on past relationships.”
“I think at the All-Star break is when it got serious. If we were going to get this done, I wanted this resolved by the All-Star break, by the end of the All-Star break. I didn’t want to start the second half, him talking about contract extension, maybe worrying about having to perform, things like that. I just didn’t want it to be a distraction at all.”
First base or DH?
“I think he can do both. I think you guys have seen in the past few years that he has gotten himself into tremendous shape. I don’t think three years ago, four years ago, we would have talked about even putting him in left field. He can obviously still fill in at third, and has done very well at first base.
“I talked to him in the offseason, he had a contract, we exercised the option, it was guaranteed money, but I asked him if he would go to winter ball and play left field and he said ‘no problem.’ It just tells you he is committed to the team. I think that is part of his value, that he can play so many positions for us, and he is willing to do that for us. Jose is the same way. … That is the type of people we want to have in this organization, that are doing whatever it takes to win.”
Can you go into more detail about Edwin’s growth as a player, and is this the type of player you thought he was going to be when he first came here?
“I was assistant GM when he first came here, and I didn’t know him, he was very quiet. I remember talking to Romero one of the offseason’s about Edwin specifically and he said, ‘I love him, he’s a great teammate.’ I don’t get to see that all the time in the clubhouse. You get to see the teammates around him, and he is a quiet leader.
“The way he has committed himself with respect to his body, work ethic, doing everything that we’ve needed him to do. I think that is where the maturity comes from. We had a long talk when Adam Lind got sent down, and him [Encarnacion] and Yunel Escobar were sitting in the locker late one night, the game was well over — it was probably midnight — and I talked to him and said, ‘When you got sent down two years ago, I’m sure you didn’t like me a hell of a whole lot.’ I said ‘You think as hard as it was it helped you,?’ and he said ‘Yeah it probably did.’
“I think maybe sometimes when you hit rock bottom, and I haven’t played obviously, but I think that is where you find the inner strength, you really find out what someone is made of. I remember when he went down there, he had a guaranteed contract, probably going to be upset. The reports we got back from the staff in Las Vegas were unbelievable. Said Edwin was going out everyday, early work. He went down there and hit .400, his attitude was unreal. It is rare, he could have sat there and said ‘Woe is me’ and put his head down, but he kept fighting. You talk about the game, it is a game of failure, you have to have that resolve and that ability to fight, cause guys have bad seasons, guys get hurt. If you quit on yourself, you won’t get very far. But I think, that was a telling sign for me, as a general manager, of what the makeup was like in terms on work ethic, and his competitiveness, and his desire, and his drive.
“You do these deals, and it comes down to trust. Do I trust the player? The ability is there — all those guys in that clubhouse have a ton of ability,. But do you trust someone to put in the work, put in the time, and really care, and he certainly met all those things.”
Was Draft-pick compensation something you considered?
“It doesn’t make any sense. We’re not at that point, especially with a 29-year-old guy that is finally starting to come into his own. He could have certainly been an All-Star, and hopefully he will be next year and going forward. Draft-pick compensation was never even a component. Guys like this, you are praying you get those guys in the Draft.”
Are you sending a message with the Edwin signing?
“No, it’s no knock on players in the clubhouse, but this is the right move for this organization, whether there is nobody in that clubhouse, or anybody in that clubhouse. This is a really good player, this is a middle-of-the-order bat, a tandem with Jose in the middle. I think anybody would want to bring this guy back, sign him back. From that standpoint, it’s a no-brainer to try to extend him.
“We have always said, if we have good players, especially our own, we are going to try to extend them and try to keep them, and so far we have been able to keep everybody. I think it’s encouraging that everyone has wanted to stay. Whether that is a credit to the clubhouse staff, the travel staff, the front office, the staff on the field, the fact that we have created an environment that these guys want to stay here and they believe in what we are doing, that is just a bonus for us.
“It’s not a bad thing that players can see, if you can work hard, and you have been where he has been, you can be rewarded. And maybe that is something that some of the players can take from it. … You can come out of this and get an extension if you play well and we want you to stay, and you want to stay, we will be able to get something done.”
Is it a good thing with what Bautista said?
“I know a lot was made of that. But I don’t want our players with a sense of apathy. I want our players to be all about winning. I have seen it the other way when guys don’t care. I don’t want Jose to ever lose that, he knows that. We have a great relationship, we talk all the time. He speaks from his heart. But I think one thing that was lost a little bit, is that he feels he is an advocate for the club, an advocate for Canada, an advocate for playing here and he is the biggest supported of this city and the market. He tries to get the word out, too. Jose does a lot behind the scenes to try to promote the team, the organization, the players. He does believe in every player in that clubhouse, and that is something I love to see as a general manager.
“Some people might try to take it and spin it,but I don’t see it that way
Does Bautista speaking up push you to do something?
“No, because I want to win just as much as everybody else. It doesn’t change my mindset, or what we are going to look to do as an organization.
“I do want all 25 guys in that clubhouse to think about one thing only — winning, and having a chance to get into the playoffs, and that should be the goal.”