Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays don’t need to overreact to Stroman “incident”

Apr 25, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) is relieved by Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons (5) during the seventh inning in a game against the Chicago White Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 25, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) is relieved by Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons (5) during the seventh inning in a game against the Chicago White Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jays dropped the opening game against the White Sox on Monday night, losing 7-5 to one of baseball’s hottest team’s in the early going of the 2016 season.

On Monday night the Blue Jays opened up their first series of the season with the Chicago White Sox, and it started exactly how they would have hoped. The Jays took an early lead on the strength of the middle of their lineup. Josh Donaldson doubled in the first, followed by a Jose Bautista walk, and a two-run double from Edwin Encarnacion. They were at it again in the 3rd and took a strong 5-1 lead against White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez.

On this night, Gonzalez was unable to locate his pitches and the Jays, especially Encarnacion, were able to get to him early, chasing him from the game before the end of the 4th inning. Meanwhile, Jays’ starter Marcus Stroman was in the midst of another strong start, showing solid command and cruising through 6 innings with just one run and four hits allowed.

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In the 7th, Stroman loaded the bases after a Dioner Navarro come-backer that hit him in the left elbow, followed by a four pitch walk to Austin Jackson. At that point, manager John Gibbons elected to go to Brett Cecil with lefty Adam Eaton and switch-hitter Jimmy Rollins due up. Cecil was unable to stop the bleeding and the White Sox took full advantage, finishing the inning by chasing Cecil and going ahead 6-5. After being pulled and watching the lead slip away, Stroman was visibly upset, slamming his hand on the bench and yelling in frustration.

After the game, Rogers’ commentator and former Blue Jay Gregg Zaun also implied that Stroman was shooting looks in John Gibbon’s direction, likely in frustration for having been taken out of the game. He and others also suggested that Stroman’s behaviour was “disrespectful to his teammates, to Brett Cecil, and to his manager, and he owes them all an apology”.

Following the game, both Gibbons and Stroman were asked about the scene in the dugout, and both acknowledged and downplayed the incident. Gibbons was visibly frustrated with the outcome of the game, but was well spoken and gave a great response to the question regarding Stroman.

“I heard him, but I didn’t see him or anything but I definitely heard him”. Gibbons downplayed the incident, echoing Stroman’s sentiments regarding the motivation behind the behaviour, but saying at the end, “I know what you mean”.

Stroman downplayed the incident and stressed it was nothing more than frustration, and not at all a sign of disrespect.

While the footage isn’t necessarily favourable for Stroman, I have to strongly disagree with Gregg Zaun‘s comments after the game. Yes, it’s possible that Stroman’s behaviour could have been interpreted that way by one or more of his teammates, but the young right hander’s comments were sincere, and the skipper summed it up perfectly. A young, passionate pitcher wanted to win and continue to establish himself amongst the best in the game, and another late inning collapse was the last thing he wanted to see happen.

It’s a situation that requires no more than a simple conversation between the player and the manager that might go something like, “Hey kid, just remember you’re on camera all the time and people are watching ya”.

The Blue Jays haven’t started the young season quite as they hoped, dipping below .500 again with the loss and sitting at 10-11. Stroman wants to be the “ace” of the staff, and the ace is the guy that nearly guarantees a win for the club every 5 days. There’s nothing wrong with him wanting to stay in the game, or being frustrated with the outcome.

Sure, Gibby may have a little chat with the third-year pitcher, but in this writer’s opinion, it doesn’t need to be anything more than that.

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