Blue Jays fire Montoyo, promote Schneider for rest of season

Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
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TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays fired manager Charlie Montoyo on Wednesday and promoted bench coach John Schneider to interim manager for the remainder of the season.

Triple-A manager Casey Candaele was named interim bench coach.

The 13th manager in Blue Jays history, and the first from Puerto Rico, Montoyo went 236-236 in parts of four seasons. Toronto beat Philadelphia on Tuesday to snap a four-game losing streak and improve to 46-42 this season, which would put them in a playoffs as a wild-card team if the season ended Wednesday despite being in fourth place in the AL East.

The Blue Jays are 3-9 in July. They went 1-6 on a road trip against Oakland, which has the worst record in the majors, and Seattle that ended Sunday with a four-game sweep against the Mariners.

Toronto’s skid started July 2, when it was swept in a doubleheader against Tampa Bay. Montoyo and first base coach Mark Budzinksi left the dugout during Game 2 after learning of the death of Budzinski’s teenage daughter, Julia.

Several members of the Blue Jays organization flew together to Virginia on Monday’s off day to attend Julia Budzinski’s funeral.

Montoyo, 57, replaced John Gibbons as Blue Jays manager after the end of the 2018 season. Montoryo’s contract was extended through 2023 on April 1.

Montoyo oversaw a tumultuous period in Blue Jays history, with the team playing home games in three cities last season, including two minor league parks, because of border restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Toronto also played its 2020 home schedule at its Triple-A stadium in Buffalo, New York.

Montoyo led Toronto to a 32-28 record and a wild-card playoff berth in the expanded playoffs that followed the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but the Blue Jays were swept by eventual AL champion Tampa Bay in the opening round. Toronto went 91-71 in 2021 and missed tying for the AL wild card by one game.

Before joining the Blue Jays, Montoyo spent six seasons on Tampa Bay’s major league coaching staff, including his final three as bench coach. Prior to that, he spent 18 seasons as a minor league manager in the Rays system and also worked with the Puerto Rican team at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.