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Blue Jays youngsters learn at the feet of Kendrys Morales

DUNEDIN, FLA.—Lourdes Gurriel Jr. raises a quizzical eyebrow at the travelling baseball tchotchke salesman, flipping as a result of a giant-sizing bio album of news clippings and interactive video clip characteristics. Retro satisfies digital.

“Come back in two a long time,” the Blue Jays 2nd baseman suggests. Need to have far more newspaper cuttings by then.

Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales homered in seven straight games last August, one shy of the major-league record.
Blue Jays specified hitter Kendrys Morales homered in 7 straight game titles last August, a single shy of the main-league document.  (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN Push)

Another industry service provider commandeers the desk just outside the house the Blue Jays clubhouse, exhibiting a pair of dozen bats for participant perusal. Randall Grichuk feels the heft on this a single, that a single. “I’ll just take the matte black with the flame tackle.”

Rowdy Tellez confides to a rookie teammate: “Took me six a long time to get my possess identify on a bat.”

This is the rattle and hum of spring instruction. On a staff exactly where an incoming reporter is owning complications pinpointing gamers with out a system. There are 10 new faces on the 40-gentleman roster of the rebuilding club. So we search for common personnel.

About there, in his customary stall — Kendrys Morales.

All around Morales, as per standard, the Latino men convene. The new music has a samba conquer. The subject is generally baseball.

They are like acolytes, at times sitting cross-legged at Morales’s feet, Dominicans and Cubans and Venezuelans. There is welcoming razzing and there is insightful educating. This is management, unfussy.

“I’m pretty blessed to have Morales listed here,” says new skipper Charlie Montoyo. “He can help me out. He’s in demand of that clubhouse. You usually see him all around the Latin gamers but he talks to every person. He’s bought the respect of each participant listed here, such as the coaches.”

At the cubicle, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leans in for a word and will get a playful chuff from Morales. Kid Franchise has described Morales as his surrogate dad.

“Those words make me very pleased,” says Morales, who has a few children of his possess. “I’ve acknowledged all the Guerrero family for a long time. I’ve found Vlad given that he was a child. I’m going to help him create himself when he will get listed here, to the large leagues.”

Introducing: “Vladimir is a climbing star. All Dominicans ought to be very pleased of him. But not just Dominicans.” Morales, of class, hails from Cuba, creating it to The united states on his eighth fleeing attempt. “Everywhere (Guerrero) goes to participate in, he’ll be a star.”

Morales gusted to stardom last season, at least for the duration of that unforgettable August fortnight when he homered in 7 straight game titles, a double-whammy in a single of them. The 35-calendar year-old DH rewrote the franchise annals and came inside a recreation of tying the main-league document for consecutive game titles with a homer.

The exact same Morales who was nearly pitchforked out of city for the duration of a brutal -for-29 stretch in Might.

He admits, shyly, observing video clip of all people bombs above the wintertime, for the reason that he eventually experienced to marvel a little bit at himself.

“It’s above now,” he says. “I’ll do the job tricky and consider to start out above yet again.”

Morales doesn’t want to make also substantially of his direction and authority stature on the club. “Discipline is the vital,’’ he stresses. “In the clubhouse, on the industry.”

It is especially essential with so substantially youth keen to make an impression. “Everybody goes as a result of that procedure. There’s some that have far more talent than many others. But even now, everybody’s bought to do the job tricky to create by themselves.”

Morales casually flexes his bulging biceps. He casts a look at the assortment of consider-me bats as the agent stretches out a appear-hither palm. Which Morales ignores.

It is not the bat, mister. It is the swing. And the gentleman. But you bought any sneakers?

Prolonged BALLS: Amid Toronto’s 14 hits on Wednesday have been the initial residence runs of the spring for Cavan Biggio and Anthony Alford, equally in the 2nd inning. Biggio strike a deep solo shot into the palm trees over and above suitable-centre, Alford experienced a two-operate wallop to the opposite industry … The Blue Jays designed suitable-hander Bud Norris’s insignificant-league deal formal. Norris is expected to crack the roster as a set up gentleman for nearer Ken Giles. The 34-calendar year-old posted a 3.59 Era last season with the Cardinals, with 28 will save in 33 alternatives … Upcoming up: The Jays bus down to Port Charlotte for a date with the Rays, with lefty Clayton Richard slotted to make his initial start out of the spring.

Rosie DiManno is a columnist based mostly in Toronto masking athletics and current affairs. Stick to her on Twitter: @rdimanno

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