The comments, coming as they did from a 24-year major-league veteran with Hall of Fame credentials, couldn’t be passed off as some passing fancy uttered by a still-wet-behind-the-ears rookie.
And the Toronto Blue Jays handled the unexpected broadside from Omar Vizquel – who charged that the coaching staff went too easy on the players this season when it came to correcting mistakes – the best way they knew how.
Manager John Farrell called for a closed door, 30-minute meeting with the players, about 2 1/2 hours before their game Friday against the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre, to try and clear the air.
“We had an opportunity to address a number of things,” Farrell said. “I would say the comments [from Vizquel] were a little bit of a tipping point and felt like we needed to discuss some things in-house.”
It has been a rough couple of weeks for the second-year Jays manager, who just got through trying to navigate the Yunel Escobar homophobic slur minefield when criticism from one of his players plopped in his lap.
Vizquel said in the presence of a couple of reporters in the clubhouse last Thursday that the Blue Jays coaching staff, for the most part, ignored many of the mistakes players made this season. The infielder said he thought the coaches needed to be more active in their approach.
After Friday’s meeting, Vizquel said he apologized to his teammates and coaches for any angst he may have caused. Then, he added, he had no regrets over what he originally said.
“I think that we really do need to talk a little bit more about the things that we do on the field,” Vizquel said. “Obviously, I’m pretty sure they do it in their meetings with the players that they needed to talk to. I don’t see everything that goes on. … It’s just something that I wanted to make sure that we do it, that we do it more.”
Vizquel’s comments echoed those of Gregg Zaun, a Sportsnet analyst, who last week charged the Blue Jays clubhouse was “consequence-free.”
Farrell said Friday that Vizquel is not always aware how he and his coaching staff handle coaching situations that arise with the players. “He might not been aware of all the messages and the examples that we continue to address.”