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New-look Blue Jays look to thrive off internal competition

5 22 355

TORONTO – Soon after the Toronto Blue Jays hired Charlie Montoyo, he began reaching out to as many players as possible. As the team’s new manager, he wanted to build connections before the daily grind of the season began.

On Saturday, Montoyo met many of those players in person for the first time at Winter Fest, a fan event held at Rogers Centre this weekend. Some, like Justin Smoak and Kevin Pillar, Montoyo already knew from his days coaching with the Tampa Bay Rays, but in other cases he was grateful for the jerseys players wore.

“I’m glad they’ve got the names on the back,” he joked.

No, this edition of the Blue Jays isn’t so easily recognizable. Gone are Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki, all of whom were still Blue Jays six months ago. In their place there’s a far younger team that will enter the season with fewer established stars.

“It’s definitely different,” Smoak said. “I feel like I was one of the guys, and now I feel like I’m the old guy.”

Chances are, this team won’t compete in 2019. Montoyo doesn’t use the word ‘rebuild’ and the players all say they’ll surprise........

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