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)
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.