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Blue Jays, Charlie Montoyo

Blue Jays’ Charlie Montoyo Optimistic about Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

  • Manuel Gómez - East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director Manuel Gómez, East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director
  • December 18, 2020

Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo is proud of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

In two short seasons, Charlie Montoyo catapulted the Blue Jays from a sub-500 team at the bottom of the AL East to a robust playoff contender. Now, with another season under his belt and a more experienced team to work with, he knows things could get better for Toronto.

As Montoyo sat before a wall displaying all his accomplishments in professional baseball, he had an air of enthusiasm about him during a Zoom call.

Who could blame him?

Especially after seeing how well Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is playing in La Liga Dominicana this winter, Montoyo is optimistic about the defensive options for his 21-year-old superstar.

“I’ll tell you what, I’m so proud of Vladdy,” he said. “He’s been working so hard this offseason because he wanted to play third base.”

Last season, Vladdy split time between first base and designated hitter after struggling at third in 2019. Having set the goal to return to third, Vladdy has worked towards losing weight and getting more reps at the hot corner by playing Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic.

So far, the results are showing. In seven games with the Leones del Escogido, Vladdy is hitting .333 with a 1.024 OPS.

“When we put him at first base last year, we never closed the door for him to come back to third base,” Montoyo said. “You don’t close the door on a talent like that.”

Do Not Underestimate Robbie Ray

Last season, the Blue Jays traded for southpaw Robbie Ray. The plan was to pair him with Hyun Jin Ryu as the team’s 1-2 punch out the rotation.

Ray demonstrates a great ability to get hitters out, but he also continues to walk far too many batters.

Early this offseason, the Jays showed confidence in Ray by re-signing him to a 1-year, $8 million deal. For Montoyo, this was a no-brainer.

“I’m glad we signed him right away,” he said. “He’s almost under the radar because he struggled in Arizona, but to me he was great. I really believe he’s going to have a great year.”

Don’t Sleep on the Blue Jays

One of the main points Charlie Montoyo wanted to get across is that the Blue Jays are the real deal. From pitching to hitting, the playoff-contending team everyone saw in 2020 was no fluke.

Last season, despite not being playing in Toronto and playing away from their temporary home of Buffalo the first 18 games of the season, the Blue Jays finished above 500 for the first time since 2016. They also snapped a 3-year postseason drought.

“The guys believed from the beginning that if we had a chance to play, we would have a chance to play in the playoffs,” Montoyo said. “It’s something we need to talk more about because the job our guys did was awesome.”

Looking forward to 2021, Montoyo welcomes high expectations.

“We want high expectations because of the way we played,” he said. “Our guys are ready for those expectations.”

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