The Blue Jays, after being swept by the allegedly inferior Orioles in Baltimore during the weekend, are in jeopardy of plunging to the cellar of the AL East by week’s end — and so the rumblings are beginning about the future of manager John Gibbons.
Word’s spreading throughout the major leagues that Gibbons’ days could be numbered.
Although his contract was extended just before training camp this season, sources in the Toronto front office revealed yesterday that Gibbons is by no means safe in his position.
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“(General manager) J.P. Ricciardi isn’t happy,” one of the sources said, “and he’s not against making moves of any kind, including replacing John Gibbons. J.P. doesn’t like losing, and he doesn’t consider injuries a valid excuse.”
Closer B.J. Ryan, outfielder Reed Johnson and third baseman Troy Glaus all have been out of the Jays’ lineup lately because of injuries and, heading into last night, the team had dropped five consecutive games.
This week, the Jays are visiting the red-hot Boston Red Sox, who entered last night with five consecutive victories—including a sweep of the mighty New York Yankees.
• Ricciardi, incidentally, may also be on thin ice.
Big things were expected from the Jays by their ownership this season and anything less than a second-place finish in the AL East probably would be enough for Ricciardi’s departure at season’s end.
• Barry Bonds tied Hank Aaron’s home-run record on Sunday.
No, not that one.
Bonds hit his third homer of the San Francisco Giants’ homestand on Sunday and each contributed to a one-run victory. That gave Bonds 107 career homers in one-run victories, tying Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron for the most in major-league history.
The next-highest total belongs to Willie Mays(94).
•Alex Rodriguez is the third player in big-league history to record 12 homers and 30 runs batted in during the month of April.
Rodriguez, whose 31 RBI matches his career best for any month, joins Ken Griffey Jr. (13 homers, 30 RBI in 1997) and Albert Pujols (14 and 32 last year).
• There’s talk in Boston, incidentally, that Rodriguez could join the Red Sox next season.
He’s been offered to them in trade talk before but there was always fear in the front office that A-Rod wouldn’t be able to get along with some of Boston’s high-profile players, such as designated hitter David Ortiz.
But Ortiz, for one, thinks that could be overcome.
“Anybody who comes here is welcome,” Ortiz said. “You’re not going to boo your own players just because they played somewhere else before. That doesn’t make sense.”
Ortiz, who professes to like Rodriguez, insists the Yankee slugger is simply misunderstood. “He’s not like people think,” Ortiz said. “I talk to him a lot.”
• The Seattle Mariners spent $8.25-million U.S. to sign pitcher Jeff Weaver to a one-year contract.
But to suggest that Weaver has been underachieving for Seattle would be the epitome of understatement.
Jeff Weaver is a ghastly 0-3 with a 13.91 earned-run average in three starts. He’s scheduled to make his next start on Friday against the Kansas City Royals, but manager Mike Hargrove is reconsidering the idea.
Dropping Weaver from the rotation would be “a very tough move to make,” Hargrove said. “But for the good of the club, sometimes you have to make moves you don’t really like.”
Like Gibbons, incidentally, Hargrove is in jeopardy of being fired.
In fact, baseball insiders figure Hargrove is the odds-on favourite to be the first manager fired this season.
• Washington Nationals pitcher Shawn Hill, a native of Mississauga, Ont., had his left shoulder examined on the weekend and the diagnosis was a simple bruise.
Hill injured the shoulder while diving back into third base in Friday night’s 6-5, 14-inning victory.
• Even without Barry Zito (jumped to the Giants) and Esteban Loaiza (injured), the Oakland Athletics entered Monday with the best pitching rotation in the American League.
Their 2.19 rotation ERA led the AL by nearly a run per game.
Right-hander Chad Gaudin, who established himself as a reliever with the A’s last season, has been superb in the A’s rotation. Oakland is his third team. He failed to impress two AL East teams during brief stints with them — the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and, yep, the Blue Jays.
Gaudin still is only 24, and with the Jays suffering serious pitching problems — especially in their bullpen — they certainly could use Gaudin.