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With future unclear, young teammates appreciate Smoak's Blue Jays tenure

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30.09.2019

TORONTO – As first pitch approached at Rogers Centre Sunday afternoon, the field was quiet. No batting practice, no infield grounders, only silence.

The season wasn’t over quite yet – still one last game to play – but within the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse, players were preparing for the end. With flights home approaching, this was the last chance to pack up lockers, tip clubhouse attendants and say goodbye to coaches.

Or, in the case of Justin Smoak, the last chance to write his teammates some personal messages. Smoak, the switch-hitting first baseman who first joined the Blue Jays in an October 2014 waiver claim, hits free agency following the World Series. After five seasons in Toronto, his time here may well be coming to an end.

On a predominantly young roster, that experience stands out, and there’s an awareness among fellow players that this could be it for Smoak, whose 117 home runs rank 14th in Blue Jays history. As first pitch approached, some of them asked the 32-year-old to sign a keepsake. One by one, Smoak obliged, and by game time there were personally inscribed ‘Smoak 14’........

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