Shea Hillenbrand on the Blue Jays hiring John Gibbons: “That’s awesome. He’s a great guy”

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In July 2006, Blue Jays infielder Shea Hillenbrand wrote “The ship is sinking” and “play for yourself” on a clubhouse bulletin board. In response, manager John Gibbons confronted him in a closed team meeting and challenged him to a fight. A couple days later Hillenbrand was traded away.

So what does Hillenbrand think about Gibbons being re-hired as the Jays manager? Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star talked to him and he thinks it’s quite delightful, actually:

“That’s awesome,” he said. “He’s a great guy …I think he handled the situation that we had very professionally and I didn’t handle it professionally at all … All I know is that during my time with him he was a really good manager and I think he did a really good job with what he had … I think John’s going to be a great addition to that ball club and he’s a great guy.”

Well, that’s no fun. No fun at all. Of course I skew misanthropic, so maybe it’s a good thing that there are no long-standing grudges here.

(Thanks to Paul Martin for the heads up)

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.