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Blue Jays: John Gibbons earns local award in San Antonio

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Blue Jays manager John Gibbons got some hometown love on Friday, being named the San Antonio Sportsman of the Year by the San Antonio Express News

It’s been an offseason of hardware for the Toronto Blue Jays, and manager John Gibbons joined the party yesterday when he was named the San Antonio Sportsman of the Year. Back for his second tour of duty at the helm of the club, Gibbons managed a roster chocked full of big talent and bigger personalities to the organization’s first playoff appearance in over two decades.

“Was it a slow sports year?” Gibbons joked when he was given the award. “It’s an honor. San Antonio’s a great sports city. For me to even be considered is pretty cool.”

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Gibbons remains a divisive figure in Toronto, like any manager in any market. Those who are against him are vocal in their stance and have been for years, while those in support of him don’t often give him credit for much more than staying out of the way. Such is the nature of a coaching or front office position in the city of Toronto, I suppose.

Perhaps the greatest gift to come from this award was an anecdote of where Gibbons was the day he got the call to return for his second stint in Toronto. “Gibbons was lifting weights in his garage when his life changed again. He got a call from the Blue Jays, who wanted him to return as manager.” What a scene!

While his bullpen management is a hot topic, Gibbons’ handling of the starting rotation was noticeably strong this year. His decisions to allow his starters an added day of rest or tinker with his order between games benefitted the rotation greatly, allowing that group to be one of the healthiest in Major League Baseball.

The arrival of Eric Wedge in some capacity within the organization has been seen as a backup plan by many. A ‘manager in waiting’, even, given his history with Mark Shapiro. But while the leash may be marginally shortened entering such a pivotal season, he’s still steering the ship. Given the contract situations of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, this could be Gibbons’ final shot with this lineup before a slight re-tooling entering 2017.

“I know there’s going to be expectations this year,” Gibbons added. “But that’s OK. It just means everybody thinks you’re good.”

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