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Ex-Blue Jay Donaldson takes shot at former team

Sitting beside the man who paved his way to become a superstar, an all star and an MVP with the Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson was acting like his old self on Tuesday.

Yes, the Bringer of Rain and general manager Alex Anthopoulos are together again in Atlanta looking to regain some of that Toronto magic from 2015 and 2016.

Beaming with a Braves jersey over his sport coat and a one-year, US$23-million deal in his pocket, Donaldson talked about regaining the form that made him one of the most feared hitters in the American League while he was with the Jays.

(WATCH above as we debate whether or not Donaldson threw shade at the Blue Jays!)

And the 32-year-old third baseman couldn’t help drop another thinly-veiled shot at the new regime running his old team in Toronto.

While seemingly thrilled to be reunited with Anthopoulos, Donaldson let it be known he was equally enthusiastic about being reunited with former Jays trainer George Poulis and his assistant, Mike Frostad who Anthopoulos brought south prior to the 2018 season.

“I’m excited to be back with Alex and a lot of the training staff with the Toronto Blue Jays because they know me and they know how to keep me on the field,” Donaldson said at his introductory press conference at SunTrust Park. “And that’s the biggest part.”


In the days before his time with the Jays ended, Donaldson pointedly insisted that he felt his injury struggles in 2018 came in large part because he was at odds with the methods of the Jays medical staff and high performance department.

Toronto management took exception to that notion, of course, but the demise of Donaldson’s time with the Jays was unsightly from the beginning of training camp until the time he was dealt to the Cleveland Indians on Aug. 31.

Moreover, without a healthy Donaldson in the lineup, the Jays were not remotely competitive, hastening the massive rebuild currently well under way with his former team, an outlook in stark contrast to the club he joins in Atlanta.

Anthopoulos is well aware of the thoroughbred that Donaldson can be, especially when healthy. And in a move that typified his time with the Jays, the Montreal native was all in on Donaldson as soon as the season ended, figuring he could be the piece to put his young team over the top.

The second-year Braves GM and his staff poured over video of Donaldson’s play the final month of the season in Cleveland and saw the elite player he’d come to know both in the field and in the plate. And when Poulis had a chance to poke and prod Donaldson during a pre-signing physical he gave the thumbs up, reporting to Anthopoulos that the chassis that was so good in Toronto was fine-tuned again.

“We’re confident we can keep him on the field,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re going to be smart about it and be responsible and make sure we give him rest when he needs it.

“From a health standpoint, the way he came back and the way he looked … he looked fantastic. Knowing Josh and being around him, he takes tremendous care of himself. He comes to win, he comes to pay. It raises everybody else’s game. you can feel it as a GM.”

“He looks like the Josh we’ve always known as one of the best in the game.”

The reunion of two men so central to those big 2015 and 2016 seasons in Toronto will surely fire up a segment of the disgruntled Jays fan base that has suffered through two awful seasons with more bleakness on the way. They’ll see the Anthopoulos-Donaldson tandem leading a Braves team favoured to repeat as National League East champions and it won’t sit well.

That view isn’t entirely foolproof, of course, as a rebuild was needed and with young talent on the way now was the time for Jays general manager Ross Atkins to get those wheels rolling.

If the Braves go on a big run, however, it will only add to the reputation of Anthopoulos who has never been shy to sit at the high roller’s table, especially with a team that needs a piece or two to soar over the top.

In acquiring Donaldson, the Braves went for a player they believe will be a force in the middle of the lineup, something Anthopoulos felt was necessary as the Atlanta offence regressed some late in 2018.

“He was the guy we wanted to get in the off season,” Anthopoulos said. “We wanted his power in the middle of the order, he brings a presence in the clubhouse and defence as well. We couldn’t have found a better fit for us and we were pretty determined to get a deal done.”

Donaldson certainly appreciated the courtship, especially coming from a contending team run by a baseball many he is familiar with.

“He made it very clear early on this is what he envisioned and he was going to do his very best to do that,” Donaldson said. “I knew Alex was very determined to get me before form Oakland and very determined to get me again.

“I’m thrilled.”


A month into his tenure as Blue Jays manager, Charlie Montoyo has put the finishing touches on his coaching staff for the 2019 season.

The team announced on Tuesday that pitching coach Pete Walker and third-base coach Luis Rivera will be the lone holdovers from the staff of John Gibbons, who was fired after the 2018 season.

Rounding out Montoyo’s staff are Guilermo Martinez as hitting coach, Mark Budzinski as first-base coach, Matt Buschmann as bullpen coach and Shelley Duncan as Major League field co-ordinator.

As well, the organization has promoted John Schneider to the position of Major League coach. Schneider has managed most of the Jays top prospects over the past several years, including star in waiting Vlad Guerrero Jr. Most recently, Scheider guided the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats to a 2018 Eastern League title.

The rest of Montoyo’s staff comes to the Jays from various organizations around the major leagues.

Walker and Rivera will each return for their seventh seasons with the team.

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