Blue Jays agree to 3-year deal with manager John Schneider

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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TORONTO – By his own admission, John Schneider never amounted to much as a baseball player.

On Friday, Schneider fulfilled a dream he’d pursued for 15 years since giving up on playing and choosing to coach instead.

Toronto’s former bench coach, Schneider was named the 14th manager in Blue Jays history, signing a three-year contract with the team he led on an interim basis for 78 games last season.

“I’ve said it before, this is a dream scenario for me,” Schneider said. “I couldn’t ask for a better situation. This organization has made me feel like a family member since day one. I’m just extremely humbled and honored to lead this group and hopefully achieve our goal of winning a World Series.”

Schneider’s contract includes a team option for 2026.

Drafted by Toronto in 2002, Schneider was a minor league catcher for six seasons before becoming a minor league manager in 2009. He spent 10 seasons managing in the minors, winning championships at three levels, before joining the Blue Jays’ big league staff as major league coach in 2019. He became bench coach before the 2022 season.

“When I turned the page from a very mediocre playing career to coaching in the minor leagues, this was kind of the end goal,” Schneider said. “I think it makes it that much more special to be sitting here with this hat and this jersey on.”

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins praised Schneider for his preparation and decision-making.

“One of the many attractive things about John is how prepared he is,” Atkins said. “That allows him to be agile in a game. Agility is huge, and being able to rely on experiences and ultimately trust your process to make decisions in the moment has to be there. It was evident to us that he was prepared to have that confidence to be agile.”

Schneider, 42, went 46-28 as interim manager after replacing Charlie Montoyo in July. Toronto finished as the top AL wild card at 92-70 but was swept out of the playoffs by visiting Seattle, blowing an 8-1 lead in the second game and losing 10-9.

“As bad as an ending is when you don’t win, I think it’s really good going forward for the next year,” Schneider said.

The Blue Jays have won 90 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since doing it three consecutive years from 1991-93, which included the franchise’s two World Series titles.

Toronto has a strong core of players under contract for 2023, including outfielder George Springer, first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., shortstop Bo Bichette and right-handers Jose Berrios and Kevin Gausman.

“This is a very unique opportunity and one that I’m not taking lightly,” Schneider said.

Scheider was named Eastern League Manager of the Year after his Double-A New Hampshire team won the league title in 2018. That team included current Blue Jays infielders Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio, outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and closer Jordan Romano.

Schneider also coached Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen and left-hander reliever Tim Mayza in the minors.

“It’s cool that some of them are like family to me,” Schneider said.

Final decisions are pending on Schneider’s staff but the expectation is they’ll all be back, Atkins said. Triple-A manager Casey Candaele joined Toronto’s staff as bench coach after Schneider was promoted.

“We’re still working through all of that,” Atkins said. “I feel very good about all of their contributions and their potential contributions moving forward but don’t want to finalize anything just yet.”

Atkins said Springer, 33, who suffered a concussion in Toronto’s season-ending loss, has returned home to Connecticut but has yet to receive attention on a bone spur in his right elbow that caused him to miss the All-Star game and sit out 10 days in August.

A four-time All-Star and MVP of the 2017 World Series with Houston, Springer signed a six-year, $150 million contract with Toronto before the 2021 season.

Atkins also confirmed that Gurriel had surgery Thursday to repair a broken hamate bone in his left wrist. Gurriel is expected to recover in four to six weeks.

 

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.