Toronto Blue Jays Manager John Gibbon crushed the hopes of a nation when he half-heartedly anointed the strikeout machine Justin Smoak as the opening day first baseman.
Did John Gibbons just tab Justin Smoak as opening day first baseman?
John Gibbons appeared on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown yesterday afternoon and discussed all things Blue Jays for nearly 19 minutes with McCown and co-host Kevin Barker. At the six minute mark of the interview, McCown dropped the hammer on the manager asking the skipper who his opening day first baseman is slated to be.
McCown: Who is your starting first baseman on opening day if it were tomorrow?
Gibbons: “Well, that would be Smoak, you could possibly see Pearce in there.”
For a listen to the full interview click HERE:
Taking the glass half full approach Gibby did mention Steve Pearce in his next breath as a second option at first base. Pearce also offers a solution to left-field so it’s anyone’s guess how it will all shake out coming opening day. Obviously, lots could change between now and opening day.
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Smoak struggled mightily in 2016, a year removed from forming a formidable combination with Chris Colabello at first base. The 30-year old slugger looked lost at the dish for large portions of last season striking out 32.8% of the time fanning 112 times in 341 plate appearances.
In a somewhat surprising move, the Blue Jays extended Smoak in mid-July of last season locking up the first baseman on a two-year pact worth $8.5 million for the life of the contract.
Smoak, who does possess a plus glove at the position, will need to somehow rekindle his ability to make consistent contact or he could find himself collecting a pay cheque from Buffalo.