At least for one day this season, the Toronto Blue Jays will have a new manager.
Following the Blue Jays’ 7-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, skipper John Gibbons confirmed that veteran backstop Russell Martin will manage the team’s season finale on Sunday, per John Lott of The Athletic. Martin will make out the lineup, handle in-game moves and address the media before and after the game.
“Let him have fun with it,” Gibbons said.
Martin, 35, has not played since Sept. 3 as the bulk of playing time has gone to top prospects Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire. With Toronto out of postseason contention, Martin has shifted into a mentor role for the organization’s young catchers, specifically Jansen.
“I’m looking to learn as much as I can, from Russ and from Luke (Maile),” Jansen told Sporting News earlier this season. “I’m with two of the best catchers in the league.”
Martin, who has one-year, $20 million left on the original five-year pact he signed ahead of the 2015 season, will enter 2019 without a defined role on a young Blue Jays roster.
In 90 games this season, Martin has slashed a meager .194/.338/.325 with 10 home runs and 25 runs batted in with appearances at catcher, left field, shortstop and third base.
As for Gibbons, Sunday will mark the official end of Gibbons’ tenure as manager after general manager Ross Atkins confirmed the longtime skipper will not return next season. An emotional Gibbons reflected on his decade-long, two-stint tenure north of the border, and he recognized it was time for a change.
“I’ve been here a long time and I agree, it’s probably time for a change,” Gibbons said. “We both agreed the time is right.”
Gibbons, 56, was honored during the Blue Jays’ home finale on Wednesday by both the fans and the team. The veteran skipper acknowledged he’d like to remain in baseball and ideally manage again, but also spoke glowingly of his soon-to-be former employer.
“I’ll always be a Blue Jay”, Gibbons said.