Seeking spark, Blue Jays hold players-only meeting
Day after five-error game, team gathers for 75 minutes in clubhouse
TORONTO -- With the season seemingly spiraling out of control, the Blue Jays held a players-only meeting prior to Tuesday night's game against the Dodgers in an effort to get things back on track.
The meeting lasted approximately 75 minutes and was an opportunity to clear the air about Toronto's poor showing on the field this year. It's not just the amount of losses that have begun to take a toll but the way the Blue Jays have looked during the process.
There was a five-error game on Monday night and some recent griping to the media. Things haven't been good, and according to some Blue Jays players it was about time for something to be done.
"We had a few guys late last night and we were talking shop, we let some things off our chest, and we said, 'Well this is something we probably need to talk to all the guys in the room about,'" Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen said.
"We ended up having the meeting, and for the most part it went well, but right now they're just words. I think everybody, including myself and my teammates, want to see it on the field."
Janssen declined to get into specifics about what was discussed during the meeting. Instead the focus was on what's needed for the Blue Jaysto avoid falling further behind in the American League East and risk getting completely buried in the standings.
Toronto entered Tuesday night 45-53 and on a five-game losing streak. With just more than two months remaining in the season, there isn't a lot of time to turn things around, but there are plenty of individuals inside the clubhouse who want to stop the losing ways and put an end to potential future embarrassment.
"If people listen, maybe there's some good to come out of it," Janssen said. "If it doesn't, I guess we're not worse off than we were before. Hopefully we come together, hopefully everyone realizes that we have each other's backs and that we haven't quit.
"There are guys in this room that genuinely care about the season, care about each other, if nothing else for the most part, we're kind of tired of seeing the product that we're seeing on the field."
The meeting came on the same day that starting catcher J.P. Arencibia decided to quit Twitter, but since talk of a meeting first took place on Monday night it would appear the two incidents are not related.
Arencibia found himself in hot water after commenting to MLB Network Radio on Friday that he went to president Paul Beeston and complained about the amount of negativity coming from Blue Jays analysts Gregg Zaun and Dirk Hayhurst.
Another rant took place on Tuesday, when Arencibia lashed out for one final time before abruptly closing his account on the social media website.
"It's unfortunate to see how words are twisted to make false stories," Arencibia tweeted. "I give way too much of myself to have others try to make me out to something/someone I'm not. Solution. I make myself very accessible with constant charitable events, and opening up to social media for the fans. I will no longer be on Twitter. Thanks to all the fans who support and praying for the others who hate. God bless."
There's bound to be various levels of frustration felt inside the clubhouse of a last-place team. No athlete enjoys losing and when things aren't going well the level of tension usually rises. The atmosphere in Toronto has the potential to become even more sour considering the Blue Jays entered the season with aspirations of not only the postseason but also the World Series.
While some might point to a players-only meeting as a sign that all is not well, general manager Alex Anthopoulos was quick to take the opposite stance. Anthopoulos said meetings often take place throughout the year, but this one is receiving more attention because it took place when the clubhouse is normally open to the media.
It was the second known players-only meeting to have taken place this season with one previously called in late April by veteran Mark DeRosa. There likely have been more, but Tuesday was at least the latest example of the Blue Jays trying to take matters into their own hands.
"Normally when you're not playing well that's when you normally see clubhouses divided," Anthopoulos said. "The clubhouse [here] overall, is a good group of guys. But at the same time if you're not winning games, it shouldn't be a happy group and nobody is.
"There are times in that clubhouse late after games they are rehashing things. You'll see players in there until one in the morning sometimes. That's because they care. It doesn't solve anything necessarily, doesn't make the fans feel better, doesn't necessarily lead to a win the next day, but if you didn't care you would just go home, go to sleep and come back with a smile on your face and that's not the way it should be when you're not playing well."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has called his own fair share of meetings this season, but he left this one in his players' hands. It's a welcome sign for everyone in the organization that the accountability is still there and that things could possibly turn around.
An airing of grievances won't just automatically change anything on the field, but perhaps it's the first step in changing the current mood around the club.
"The name of the game is winning," Gibbons said. "Sometimes when you start struggling guys will hold meetings -- it's not uncommon at all."
"Maybe it sparks something, maybe they air some things out, maybe they feel they need to try and do some things different, whatever it might be. If the results change, it was a good meeting, if the results don't change it wasn't a good meeting. It's that simple."