By Bianca Buono 3-5-2013
John Gibbons is back in familiar territory. Gibbons managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 2004 to 2008 and is back this season.
After spending seasons with the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres, Gibbons is happy to be back.
“It’s a thrill for me. You know, the odds of me returning to the place I started and getting that opportunity, it was a long shot. It came out of nowhere and I really didn’t expect it,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons is taking over for John Farrell who has moved to another team in the AL East, the Boston Red Sox.
Last year, the Blue Jays finished in 4th place in their division but Gibbons is feeling confident because of several major offseason moves..
“ I’m excited. We put together a really good team on the field. It looks good on paper now we just gotta go out there and perform.”
Toronto acquired several major players in the offseason, including depth in the pitching staff.
“We got two starting pitchers [from Miami] which they desperately needed here. And of course they brought in Dickey from New York [Mets],” Gibbons said. “Those are three guys who are difference makers.”
Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and R.A. Dickey will be part of this year’s pitching rotation. But in addition to pitching, the Jays picked up a captain.
“Everybody is always looking for a top of the line shortstop to lead-off and we got
that in [Jose] Reyes,” Gibbons expressed.
The Jays have not made a playoff appearance since 1993 when they won the World Series. This year, Gibbons wants to make it there again but in order to do that, Toronto will have to outplay teams in arguably the toughest division in baseball.
“We like our team. How good we’re going to be we don’t know. But we hope we’re there in the end come September. It’s been so long since this organization has played in games that matter. So if we can get to September we’ll be very happy and from there, who knows what might happen,” Gibbons said.
New roster addition Josh Johnson also realizes that his move from the Miami Marlins puts him against fierce competition.
“You can go up and down through the teams and see what the Rays and Orioles did. They’re tough,” he said. “And then there’s Boston and New York and that kind of speaks for itself.”
But for Gibbons, there is one team to beat.
“The Yankees are still defending champs. Whether they do that again, who knows? But until you unseat those guys, they’re still the champs.”