John Gibbons undeterred during absence from Blue Jays

John Gibbons is a family person, first and foremost.

When the Toronto Blue Jays manager got word this past Saturday, when his group was in Baltimore to play with the Orioles, his presence was demanded back home in San Antonio to help deal with a personal matter, the father of three was gone in an instant.

His lack stretched through five games, during which seat coach DeMarlo Hale assumed the director’s mantle, including Tuesday’s 19-inning marathon in Boston. That tedious affair lasted six hours and finished in the wee hours of this morning with Boston winning 3-2.

“I was after it,” a relaxed Gibbons said from his office in Rogers Centre, back to the job after his sudden absence. “I hate to admit, I had been watching that 19-inning match in bed.”

Gibbons marked his return to the club in Toronto on Friday at which the Blue Jays welcomed the Detroit Tigers to town to get a three-game weekend show.

And what a difference a year makes.

This time last year, both the Tigers and the Blue Jays were involved in extreme Major League Baseball playoff races within the last month of the season, one that spanned an entire nation in Toronto’s case.

Now, the season can’t end quickly enough for both outfits, their post-season ambitions having died for all intents and purposes weeks ago.

Not that a supervisor stops caring — ever — even when life conspires to throw in the odd curveball as in the case of Gibbons last week.

Gibbons wasn’t requested, nor did he provide any specifics, on the details surrounding his absence — and it wasn’t necessary. It’s a private affair and must have been pressing to take him away from his livelihood so late in the season.

However, Gibbons said he found the time every day to monitor the progress of his ball team and talk over the phone with both Hale and general manager Ross Atkins on what was happening.

“It seems easier farther away, I will tell you {},” Gibbons said. “I had a few things I needed to treat but I missed being away from the men. Despite the fact that this has been a challenging season, this is your group, you are part of them.

“There is that bond and you are using them seven months, you miss this.”

Despite his team playing for little more than pride, Gibbons insists he’ll adhere to his regulars as far as possible with only 21 games currently left at the regular-season schedule going into play on Saturday.

The Blue Jays have many minor-league call-ups in their September roster which they would like to have a close look to help them determine how they may help the future improvement of the club.

However, for Friday’s match, Richard Urena, a promising 21-year-old infielder who toiled in the Double-A degree at New Hampshire this year, was the only newcomer in the starting lineup at shortstop.

And his name was just pencilled in at the last moment after third baseman Josh Donaldson was scratched due to illness.

The drive to attempt to keep a competitive equilibrium was also probably the reason the Blue Jays chose to begin Marcus Stroman for the Detroit game as opposed to play it safe and give him some additional rest to be certain his sore right arm is completely healed.

Toronto’s best newcomer by a long shot this year, Stroman was knocked out in the second inning in his previous excursion on Saturday when he took a vicious line drive off his elbow.

The Blue Jays determined over the course of the week there was no structural damage to Stroman’s arm and decided to let him proceed with his next scheduled start.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail