There is no doubt that the incident this past weekend with Yunel Escobar has not left either the player or the club in a good light with fans, the media, or the community as a whole. Escobar’s choice of words to display on his eye black, regardless of intention, were ill-advised and have no place in baseball, let alone any sport.
Unfortunately, it is a situation that will also follow the club and Escobar for the rest of what has already been a difficult season for Toronto.
Now comes word that this may not have been the only incident that the Blue Jays have had to address with Escobar this season. During an interview prior to Thursday’s loss to the Yankees, manager John Farrell mentioned that he has had other conversations with the shortstop.
When pressed for details, Farrell would only elaborate to the point of saying that they were “baseball issues”, quelling any concern that there had been similar incidents in the past. General manager Alex Anthopoulos tried to play it down as a common meeting held between management and the players throughout the season, but at that stage, the media had latched on.
No matter how you color it, combined with the eye black incident it does paint a picture of a player who is a malcontent in the locker room and on the field.
Escobar has become known as a divisive presence in the locker room and with our without Farrell’s comment, it has not been a secret to fans either. Coupled with a decided drop in performance at the plate, and Escobar suddenly finds himself in an tight position with the Blue Jays holding $5 million team options for both 2014 and 2015.
Backed into a corner with no friends and a fan base that is obviously not happy with you is no way to get those options picked up. Escobar is going to have to make a significant strides, both in performance and attitude between now and the end of next season, if he wants to stay in a Blue Jays uniform.
Otherwise, he’ll be writing a new word on his eye black; “Adios”.