Skip to main content

Toronto Blue Jays centre fielder Kevin Pillar arrives to meet with reporters during a visit to Halifax on Jan. 11, 2019.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

As the longest tenured Toronto Blue Jay, Kevin Pillar realizes his role is about to change significantly this year.

With veteran stars like Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and J.A. Happ among others, no longer in Toronto, the often spectacular centrefielder says he’s ready to embrace the rebuilding franchise’s change of direction.

During the start of the Jays’ two-day winter tour in Halifax on Friday, Pillar told reporters he takes pride in the fact he was drafted (32nd round, 2011) and developed by the Blue Jays and wants to be a part of the team’s future.

Story continues below advertisement

If the opportunity presents itself, he’s ready to assume the leadership mantle.

“It’s something that I’ve always felt I was capable of doing,” Pillar said. “I’ve kind of sat back and learned from some older guys, some good leaders that we’ve had in the past. It might be my time to step up as a leader as a guy that has been here longer than anyone else.”

The Blue Jays finished fourth with a 73-89 record in the ultracompetitive American League East last season and missed the playoffs for the second straight year.

The team isn’t expected to be a playoff contender for at least the next couple of years as it waits for top prospects like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., to mature. The third baseman is expected to do a short stint in triple-A Buffalo to start the season before being called up in a move that would give the Blue Jays one more year of contract control.

Pillar said the way Guerrero has dominated at every level of he’s played is exciting.

“I expect him to be up at some point and I expect him to go out there and be successful and kind of take over as the face of this franchise and lead this franchise to great things,” he said.

As for new manager Charlie Montoyo, Pillar said he’ll need to make his own adjustments after having only played for former manager John Gibbons during his previous six major-league seasons.

Story continues below advertisement

“With Charlie stepping in and taking over, I kind of have this nervous excitement about spring training that I haven’t had in a while,” he said.

One of the younger players trying to win the new manger’s confidence is pitcher Ryan Borucki, who is currently slotted at No. 3 in the rotation behind Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.

After going 4-6 with a 3.87 ERA in his rookie 2018 season, Borucki said he wants to establish himself as a capable starter.

“I’m just going into spring training like I was last year, just trying to make the team and trying to show my ability to be a starter,” he said. “Definitely a good September helped me have that confidence going into the off-season.”

Spring training starts for pitchers and catchers on Feb. 14 with the full squad expected in camp Feb. 18 in Dunedin, Fla.

“I’m excited about the future,” said Pillar. “I know the future is right around the corner and I know we have some really young, talented guys coming up.”

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter