Blue Jays to bring back John Gibbons as manager


While all indications were that the Blue Jays planned to bring in a retread as John Farrell’s replacement on the bench, who knew it’d again be one of their own? John Gibbons, who managed the team from 2004-08, will reclaim the job, the Toronto Sun reports.

Gibbons had a 305-305 record in three full and two partial seasons in his first stint at the helm of the Jays. It was his only gig as a major league manager. When he was fired after a 35-39 start in 2008, he was replaced by another former Jays manager, Cito Gaston.

The hiring, expected to be officially announced Tuesday, will come one day after the team officially acquired shortstop Jose Reyes, right-hander Josh Johnson and left-hander Mark Buehrle in a 12-player deal.

Gibbons’ original Toronto stint is best remembered for his confrontations with players Shea Hillenbrand and Ted Lilly. Hillenbrand was traded just a few days after taking on Gibbons, while Lilly and Gibbons made up not long after their blow-up.

Still, the bigger problem with Gibbons was his tendency to stick with underperforming veterans. Part of it was the hand he was dealt, but he always seemed to be most comfortable sticking with his veteran role players.

Maybe that won’t make much of a difference now, since the Jays have assembled a high-payroll team and don’t have a bunch of prospects knocking down the door (they still have some talent, but much of it remains at least a year or two away from the majors). How he handles the bullpen will be a big key for him, particularly if the Jays fail to acquire an experienced closer. They have plenty of talented arms, but it remains to be seen whether Gibbons will favor experience over talent. After all, this is a guy who once let Miguel Batista rack up 31 saves.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.