Blue Jays: José Berríos on new teammates, John Schneider, MLB rule changes
Last week, I had the unique opportunity to chat with Toronto Blue Jays pitcher José Berríos, who is looking to redeem himself in the upcoming season. Berríos will make two starts in Spring Training for the Jays before leaving to join Team Puerto Rico in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
While our conversation primarily centered around the down year he had in 2022 and what he has done to improve, we also spoke about how he feels about the additions made by the Jays in the offseason, John Schneider as the manager and each of the 2023 MLB rule changes.
In the 2022-2023 offseason, the Blue Jays made some significant changes to the big league roster. Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho are the new outfielders while Teoscar Hernández and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. are out, effectively swapping out home runs for above-average defense.
On the mound, Chris Bassitt is the club's new No. 3 starter while reliever Erik Swanson is going to form a lethal tandem with Jordan Romano in the backend of the bullpen.
"I could not be happier or more excited about the moves Toronto made in the offseason", Berríos says when asked about all of his new teammates. "We've already got to work alongside each other and they will add a lot to our team. We had the talent last year to do a lot of good things, but we've gotten even better. With the roster we have now, we can go all the way this season."
Adjusting to the new MLB rules
With all of the new rule changes coming to Major League Baseball, Berríos is not bothered by them. "It's my job to make good pitches and get batters out", he says. One rule that certainly will not affect him much is the pitch timer. Statistically, he was the quickest starter on the Blue Jays last season and was the second-quickest with the bases empty last year (H/T Michael Fisher for the stats).
"Wow, I had no idea", he said when I told him that he's already the quickest guy on the staff. "It's been a hot topic of conversation in camp so far, but I'm already working with the guys to see how I can be ahead of all of the new rules and just keep doing my thing."
The new manager in town
Heading into the upcoming season, the Blue Jays are going to have John Schneider returning to the helm for what will be his first full season. He took over for Charlie Montoyo mid-season last year and excelled.
"At first it was a little weird", says Berríos about adjusting to Schneider from Montoyo. "Charlie and I had chemistry right away since we are both from Puerto Rico. I found the same happened with Schneider. We got along quickly. He has a lot of energy and passion for this beautiful game we play. He's been very open with us about how he has the same goal as players do: bringing energy and passion to win games".
"A lot of our current guys played for him in the minor leagues, which will help things", he continues. "It's special for the young guys who have had the chance to play with him before that now he's with them in the big leagues."