PITTSBURGH — You’ll have to excuse my lack of bloggage yesterday. That was quite the hectic day for this weary scribe — nothing sleeping in couldn’t cure this morning, though.
My day yesterday began at 4:45 a.m. in Milwaukee. I’m on a strict schedule for that whole marathon training program I’m doing and I had to log 5 miles yesterday. That meant heading out at 5 for a jaunt along Lake Michigan before heading to the airport.
Two flights later — thanks Continental! — I was in Pittsburgh and at my hotel around 12:30, about the time the news landed that the Blue Jays had fired John Gibbons and brought back Cito Gaston and a few of his handpicked coaches. Add 12 innings and an ace pitcher getting hit in the face with the liner and, well, I was beat.
Gibbons handled his dismissal with grace, offering nothing but thanks to the Jays and GM J.P. Ricciardi for giving him the chance to manage. The only part that bothered Gibby — a fellow American who will be missed — was that three other coaches (Ernie Whitt, Marty Pevey and Gary Denbo) also were shown the door.
“That’s the toughest part of it all,” said Gibbons, who received the news Friday morning in Pittsburgh. “If it just effects me, that’s one thing, but when other coaches are involved — that’s their livelihoods. That’s what bothers me.”
Know that Gibby never lost that clubhouse. The players in that clubhouse were Gibbons fans, but simply lost too many games to this point, underachieving in light of lofty expectations, and costing Gibby his job in the process. A move had to be made as a statement that the season to this point has been unacceptable.
I’ll admit that it seemed a bit odd to bring back Gaston and some members from the Jays’ staff from the 1990s. I was going over possible replacements earlier this week and considered Gaston’s chances, but didn’t think the club would go that route. Well, I thought wrong, and it’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out.
In his first game as the new-old skipper, Gaston watched the same ol’ Blue Jays: great pitching, no hitting. Toronto dropped a 1-0 game in 12 innings in Pitt and Gaston admitted to making “some mistakes out there.” One, perhaps being a little rusty after 11 years between managerial stints, came when Gaston brought Jason Frasor into the game in the 12th.
“I walked off the mound tonight to give the umpire the name of the pitcher,” he explained. “Once you walk off you can’t go back. He walked away from me and I walked off to tell him and I couldn’t go back. So when Frasor came in, I couldn’t even tell him anything, so I just tossed the ball to [Wilkerson] and he gave him the ball. That’s a mistake on my part right there.”
As for Roy Halladay, who took a line drive off the side of his face and left after seven inning, he was deemed day-to-day and expected to make his next start. Still, as a precaution, he was off to have an X-ray after the game. So, we’ll learn more tomorrow. After what’s been going on with Aaron Hill (out indefinitely due to post-concussion syndrome), the Jays aren’t taking any chances.