Toronto – The last time the Toronto Blue Jays had a real home opener, Brandon Dury, Freddie Galvis and Justin Smoke were in the lineup. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Beachet were in Triple-A. The Blue Jays have lost 95 times for the first time.
Three years later, the Blue Jays are one of the most talented teams in baseball. Guerrero Jr. and Beachet have emerged as stars and their expectations have been much higher over the years.
When players talk about expectations for this team, it is clear that playoffs are the starting point, not the end goal.
“It’s just excitement,” Beachett told the Rogers Center on Thursday. “Everyone knows the talent we have and what we’re capable of. We’re going to do what we can for the World Series. It’s exciting to get started.”
And for Beachet and most of his teammates, the opening day experience in Toronto will be something new. Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, the team spent the entire 2020 season in Buffalo before moving to Buffalo and finally to Toronto before starting the 2021 season in Dunedin, Fla., Where they spent the last two months of the season missing the playoffs. On the last day of the season.
“I am very happy for our players and for our fans,” said GM Ross Atkins. “More than 20 (players) have not had such an experience here in Toronto. I can’t wait to see the look on their faces, the energy in this stadium and the excitement in the faces of the fans. . ”
It was an exciting time, but as the Blue Jays and Visiting Texas Rangers worked to prepare for Friday’s opener, some questions remained unanswered. For example: How far is Net Pearson, what is the status of pitching coach Pete Walker, and what discussions are going on with the young stars of Blue Jays?
Pearson (mononucleosis) was officially listed as injured on Thursday, but Atkins said he was feeling better while hinting that right-handed baseball activities could resume much earlier. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have 10 relievers to help cover them, and Ross Stripling is set to launch a spot this month.
Walker, who was arrested and charged last month with driving under the influence, was on the field at the Rogers Center on Thursday, working with the team as usual. According to Atkins, this will not change until the legal situation develops further.
“Pete came to me very early in the process, came to Charlie, addressed the team,” Atkins said. “It’s still a legal process, so I’m limited in how much I can comment on it…….
For the team’s offense, manager Charlie Montoya indicated that he had settled into the opening day’s lineup without specifying. As spring training drew to a close, the Blue Jays played with a variety of lineups, with Guerrero Jr. batting third, where he spent most of last year, as well as second.
For now, Montoya is not saying how he will make things up for the opener against Marcus Semien, Corey Cigar and the Rangers.
Perhaps more important for the team’s long-term structure is the state of expansion talks between the club and its emerging young stars. Bichett said there had been some discussion about a possible deal while indicating that his focus was now on the field.
“We’ve had conversations,” Beachet said. “I think right now we’re focusing on the season and achieving what we think we’re capable of. Right now, we’re not talking.”
Atkins left the possibility open when the team asked if the season was open for expansion talks.
“Each situation is unique,” GM said. “We will handle each situation individually. So glad these players are here and any way that we can find a way to keep this team longer, we always think.”
Guerrero Jr. and Beachet are both now four years away from free agency, so the Blue Jays have time by their side.
While small market teams such as the Tampa Bay Ray and Pittsburgh Pirates must rush to lock up like Wonder Franco and K’Brian Hayes, the Blue Jays have spent a lot lately, despite the limitations, with three players signing $ 100 million contracts since the beginning of 2021.
Signing Guerrero Jr. or Beachet will probably require a bigger commitment, but this franchise now works like a big-market team, so it is again a possibility for players to land at the top of the market.
It’s hard to say where those discussions lead, but for now the team is undoubtedly talented. With a strong lineup and a deep starting spin they are arguably the best team in the deepest division of baseball.
Outside expectations are high, as you might expect, but Bichett told the assembled media on Thursday afternoon that the players themselves see things the same way. After last year, they will not be satisfied with another near-miss.
“I think in the past we’ve had more expectations than any of you,” he said. “For us, I think it’s more, it’s about time. But like I said we have to go there and do it.”