Montoyo urges Blue Jays to be part of teams brought together by pandemic


TORONTO – Before the Toronto Blue Jays got together to restart their training camp, the team connected via Zoom and manager Charlie Montoyo went through a list of things their players should expect when all together.

Under these conditions, he told them, their preparations would obviously be very different from those usual, with training more suited to individual needs in order to put everyone in the best possible form of baseball. Communication with the coaching staff would be essential to ensure that they get extra ground balls, more shots in the outside field, a few more tears in the cage – whatever they felt was necessary.

Montoyo has also given up some knowledge about them.

“There are going to be two types of teams,” he reminded the group. “There are going to be teams that will work together. They will follow directions. They will work in groups. They will stay healthy. And that will help them win more games. And then there will be teams who will complain about everything, lose focus, get sick, not be healthy, and they are not doing very well. It’s going to be a long 60 games. ”

The Blue Jays, the only team of 30 majors to carry out compulsory quarantine in a hotel attached to their land, intend to become the first, rather than the second, which is crucial given their situation.

Separated from family and friends, sequestered in the imprint of Rogers Center and Toronto Marriott City Center, instructed not to leave their room – even for coffee – unless they go to work, minded can easily turn negative.

Full commitment, a prerequisite for success in the best of cases, must be a fundamental pillar to thrive in this reality modified by the pandemic, when the extraordinary challenges of trying to avoid COVID-19 will, sometimes, even the threat of 60 games. sprint feel like a marathon.

Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering all the latest news with opinions and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

The Blue Jays have already experienced some of the risks involved at the time, after a handful of players and staff contracted the coronavirus in Dunedin, Florida at the end of last month, and only 12 of 58 players of their pool of players are still in the establishment. there after another positive admission test.

These successes have reinforced the need to strictly adhere to existing health and safety protocols, all the more critical given the way the Canadian government has granted an exemption allowing the Blue Jays to train in Toronto now. , while considering authorizing 30 regulars. home game season in the city, too.

“I remember, that’s for sure, it’s absolutely true,” said wide receiver Danny Jansen of the message from Montoyo. “This season, with everything going on, you have to stay healthy. I mean, it’s a shame if you test positive, then you have to sit for two weeks or more. So really, the teams that take the precautions very seriously, which you hope to be everyone, are to the advantage. ”

Another advantage in Jansen’s view is that he is moving away from the rampant spread of COVID-19 that occurs in many places in the United States. With far fewer viruses circulating in the community, the risk of infection is greatly reduced, and with all of their travel group members who are negative twice, they can feel safe in their bubble when they go to the job.

“We all pretty much agree that we have an advantage in being in Canada,” said Jansen.

Their work at the Rogers Center is expected to resume Thursday night, when the club plays its first intrasquad game, a regular event from there in preparation for the July 24 opening at the Tampa Bay Rays.

During the first three days of the Blue Jays in Toronto, they had side sessions, live batting training and a lot of the usual drilling. As they move into a game action, not having to play with a real opponent will allow them to control the flow and make sure everyone gets what they need for the day.

“They can play every day and if they have a long run, we can stop it and we can change the round,” said Montoyo. “It’s good to have control over what you do. I see my guys playing every day and getting ready to play nine innings and really being in baseball shape. ”

For Jansen, who has 2½ weeks to prepare for 2½ months of squatting for nine rounds, this means getting as many repetitions as possible. On Wednesday, he grabbed five or six innings during live batting practice, took several batters and grabbed arenas “when I can.”

“You don’t want to go from zero to 100 right now and you want to get started,” he said, “but somehow you have to do it quickly. ”

It is a fine line to walk, especially for launchers, but really for everyone who is suddenly thrown into the daily routine from different degrees of locking. Hamstrings pulled, obliques stretched, and painful elbows are among the types of soft tissue disease that everyone should guard against.

“We are all professionals. We all know what we need to do, ”said Jansen. “We all have our own routines, if it was the regular season now, what we would do after and before the games. Obviously, you have to be aware of it, you have to deal with it early and it is not much time right now. But we are pros, we know what we need to do to get our bodies back in shape and keep it healthy. I have to do my best. “

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Doing your best can certainly sound like a mantra for the time.

Montoyo said the Blue Jays group back in Florida was with coaches who helped them run the workouts, which kept them at the pace of the majority of the Toronto-based group. When asked if the team might be left without a few starters on opening day, he replied, “No, no, no.”

Their absence underscores the fragility of this whole adventure for the Blue Jays and for baseball as a whole. A single lack of judgment can have far-reaching consequences, which is why, in addition to talent and desire, and all the usual things that teams have to gain, adherence to protocol is also essential.

“This is the message I gave them,” said Montoyo, “and to tell you the truth, I love how happy our guys are to be here and hungry to play this game.”


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