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BUFFERY: Montoyo hiring met with universal praise

Charlie Montoyo will be introduced to the Toronto media and fans of the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday afternoon at the Rogers Centre, but the baseball world has wasted no time heralding his hiring.

Minnesota Twins catcher Chris Gimenez, who played under Montoyo at Durham in 2012 and 2013, called his former skipper the most deserving person to get a manager’s job in the big leagues.

“You could not ask for a better person to manage that ball club. Just an absolutely quality individual,” Gimenez told MLB Network Radio. “He likes to have fun, but he’ll also kick your rear end when you need it.

“What a tremendous hire for the Blue Jays,” Gimenez continued. “They’ve totally hit the nail on the head. He’s paid his dues and it’s his time to shine now.”

Montoyo’s career stats as a minor-league manager speak volumes, but there are some other points of interest about the man about to become the 13th manager in Blue Jays history:

  • Montoyo’s 11-year-old son Alex was born with only one heart ventricle (instead of the normal two) and has undergone four open-heart surgeries in his young life. Alex is doing OK now, but Charlie has said that Alex’s health issues have put life in perspective for him and his family (wife Samantha and older son Tyson) and that he has learned not to sweat the little things, such as worrying about where his coaching/managerial career was going to take him.

“After everything that’s happened with my son Alex, being a big league manager isn’t the thing I think about the most in my life. It’s not my dream to be a big league manager. If it happens, and if it’s right for me and my family, then okay. But it’s not my dream,” Montoyo told Sam Stephenson, a Durham-based writer, prior to getting the Jays gig.

  • He is a legend in Durham, N.C., where he led the Bulls to six divisional titles and two International League championships and was named International League manager of the year there in 2010 and 2013. When the medical expenses for Alex started to build, both the Bulls and Rays double-A affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits, where he managed from (2004–2006), set up funds to help off-set the Montoyo family’s medical costs.
  • At 53, Montoyo reportedly runs five miles every day while listening to salsa music from his native Puerto Rico. A huge music fan, upon arriving at Yankee Stadium (as a coach with the Rays), he would, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, jog two miles to a music store in the Bronx called Casa Amadeo, owned by 83-year-old musician Mike Amadeo. also a huge salsa fans. Montoyo reportedly has his own set of conga drums and timbales that he plays at home.
  • When the Rays touched down at a stadium on the road, Montoyo will record a tour of the stadium on his phone for Alex, with running commentary, and send it home.
  • Montoyo calls home to Puerto Rico to talk to his mom Nydia every day.
  • When Montoyo played for the Ottawa Lynx (the triple-A affiliate of the Montreal Expos), an Ottawa broadcaster nicknamed him “Choo Choo” for the way he chugged around the bases. TSN broadcaster Steve Warne tweeted that the best memory of Montoyo playing for the Lynx was “the day his wife ran up to the press box at Ottawa Lynx Stadium to yell at the scorer for charging her husband with an error.”


Somewhat lost in Charlie Montoyo signing on as the new Blue Jays manager on Thursday was the news that Toronto infielder Justin Smoak was named (for the first time in his career) a Rawlings Gold Glove Award finalist at first base.

Smoak wasn’t available for comment, but his wife Kristin’s reaction spoke volumes for how the family felt about the news.

“Omg omg omg!!!!” she tweeted.

For years, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons and many of his teammates lauded Smoak for his defensive play at first. This season, the Goose Creek, S.C., native had 1,036 putouts, 39 assists, helped turn 99 double plays and had only one error while sporting a 99.9% fielding percentage in 134 games.

Matt Olson of the Oakland A’s and Mitch Moreland of the Boston Red Sox are the other two American League finalists at first.

The Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves and Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs are the three NL finalists at first base.

Votto is Canadian while Freeman played for Canada in the last WBC.

Also of note, Jays centre fielder Kevin Pillar was not named a finalist at his position — the nods at that spot going to Mike Trout, Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Red Sox and Adam Engel of the Chicago White Sox. Pitcher Marcus Stroman, last year’s Gold Glove winner, was also not named a finalist this year.

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