HomeSportsBlue Jays bringing new identity, culture to 2023 season

Blue Jays bringing new identity, culture to 2023 season

Dunedin, Fla. There’s a new regime in Toronto.

Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. are gone from the Blue Jays; Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Belt, and Chris Bassitt, among others. The average age on rosters went up over the winter – a sign things were about to change.

This offseason, the Blue Jays forged a new identity as the pieces and the personalities cobbled together. It began with manager John Schneider at the helm. Blessed with a fresh start and last season’s disaster behind him, Schneider wants his players to sharpen the finer details.

“[We’re]playing loose, but maybe not as loose as before,” said closer Jordan Romano, who is set to start his fifth season with the Blue Jays. “Even on the backfield, practice has been really good. It’s been high energy. You mess up one rep, you’re back out there again. It’s not just about messing around. It’s really focused. .

By adding experienced players and seasoned coaches, the Blue Jays have created a camaraderie that everyone loves.

“I think if you look at our team over the last few years, there’s talent on paper,” said Schneider. “It’s all there, whether it’s offensively, defensively, (or) pitching. I think the next step for this group, or any group that’s trying to win a World Series, is just being very observant.

Romano noted how Don Mattingly, who was hired as the Jays’ bench coach this winter, helped drive home that message. As Schneider puts it, Mattingly’s presence adds a pinch of credibility to the club’s new detail-oriented attitude that only “Donnie Baseball” can provide.

“It’s good to sum up everything I’ve been saying in the same way,” Schneider said. “And then just believing in it; Just believe it is a difference-maker.

Together, Schneider and Mattingly have set the tone — and players have been receptive. But when you line up a bunch of passionate baseball personalities for a season, the dynamic heightens. Like a mosaic, each Giants adds a dash of what they think a good club feels and plays like, and if everything works out, voila, a World Series contender is born.

Take Kirmeyer, for example. He moves with non-stop energy, much to the shock of his Blue Jays teammates, who are surprised that he is not fatigued after years of grinding in the big leagues.

“I had a young man ask me, ‘Do you still play adrenaline?’ I said, heck, man, every day. Every day, man,” Kirmaier said. “That’s what I love to do. I love to play. (If) you win and have fun, that’s the best.

Kevin Kiermaier brings another veteran presence to the Blue Jays clubhouse. (Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Kirmaier is just that – the guy still buzzing on the bus at 4 a.m. after the team’s plane has landed; He takes on a self-proclaimed energetic “alter ego” when he walks up to the ballpark. Those are the superpowers he brings to any clubhouse lucky enough to have him.

For as much positivity as Kiermayer provides, he adds an equal dose of perspective. The 32-year-old has 10 major-league seasons and a World Series under his belt, so he understands what it takes, especially when it comes to clubhouse culture. “Talented players who care” win championships, Kiermaier said, and his arrival in Toronto coincided with the Blue Jays looking to instill that type of mindset.

The “Barrio” home run jacket is no more — Bo Bichette fills in Kiermaier on the group’s decision to retire the apparel — as the club adopts a more natural way of celebrating success. Kiermaier likes the new “first-in-first-out” attitude.

“I tell people to get on camera for the stuff you do between the white lines. The cameras will be on you,” he said. that the camera is on them. And I’m old school, so I’m not all that.

It’s not fair to call the Blue Jays an old-school team even with all the veterans, but the club recognizes that sound baseball teams execute the fundamentals. And good baseball teams run in October.

“When you look at teams in the post-season, there’s hardly a dent in their armor,” said Kevin Gausman. “And it’s because they do those little things well and they keep the pressure on the other team. They don’t give anything away.

They don’t give anything. How the Blue Jays gifted the Seattle Mariners a win in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series last year is a haunting concept. But with a restructured roster, new coaching philosophy and deeper focus, Toronto feels better equipped to nail down the stretch.

“It’s almost like we got asked to homecoming last year, and then this year we feel like we might as well go to prom,” Gaussman said with a grin. “It’s the way it feels.”

Last season, the Blue Jays got a taste — a sour taste — of post-season baseball. Now they are ready to strike back and avenge those failures of a year ago.



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