Carlos Delgado has some advice for his old team as it tries to overcome a disappointing start to the season.
And the former Toronto Blue Jays slugger says the recipe for the club’s 2013 edition is simple.
“In the second half just take it one game at a time, don’t start looking at the standings, don’t start trying to figure out how many games you need to win to make it to the playoffs,” Delgado said before Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. “You know what, just go out and have fun. But they have to play it out.”
Delgado met the media ahead of Sunday’s pregame ceremony that will see him inducted into the club’s Level of Excellence at Rogers Centre.
The 41-year-old was a member of the Blue Jays from 1993 to 2004 and is the franchise leader in home runs (336), RBIs (1,058), walks (827), slugging percentage (.556), OPS (.949), runs (889), total bases (2,786) and doubles (343).
The Blue Jays made a number of big moves during the off-season and were touted as World Series favourites before the season began. But they entered Saturday last in the American League East with a record of 45-50.
“I think [they] have a great group of guys,” said Delgado, whose 17-year playing career also included stops with the Florida Marlins and the New York Mets. “I think they have a lot of talent but for some reason they haven’t been able to put it together.”
He adds that the team will only find the winning formula by trusting in themselves.
“Good players on paper don’t win championships,” Delgado said. “You have to figure out a way to gel, you have to figure out a way to pick each other up. They have to figure out a way to go out there and win even when guys are hurt, even when guys are struggling, even when your best players are not playing great.
“They have the talent and they showed in the first half that they’ve got a great bullpen. So they have things that they can build on. It’s important for them to take it easy, let’s go play, no panic but there [also] has to be a sense of urgency.”
Delgado will be the sixth player to be added to the Level of Excellence, joining pitcher Dave Stieb, Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar, shortstop Tony Fernandez and outfielders Joe Carter and George Bell. Former manager Cito Gaston, former general manager Pat Gillick, late broadcaster Tom Cheek and current president and CEO Paul Beeston have also been honoured.
“This was a surprise,” Delgado said of his selection. “I always said that I played the game to try to win, to go out there and do the best I can with my abilities.”
Delgado’s career ended with a hip injury that did not respond to surgery. He finally had a hip replacement several months ago. The two-time all-star (2000, 2003) won the Hank Aaron Award and Sporting News Player of the Year Award in 2000 and the Silver Slugger Award in 1999, 2000 and 2003.
“I’m not into awards or recognition. Having said that ....when I got that call from Mr. Beeston I was super excited,” Delgado said. “I can look at that Level of Excellence and you see some great names, some great ballplayers and some great icons of Toronto Blue Jays history and I’m completely honoured.”