Toronto Blue Jays Interview Transcripts: Players React to Cito Gaston Report

Courtesy of the National Post, here are interview sessions with Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill, Scott Downs, Roy Halladay, Rod Barajas and Lyle Overbay. Doc predictably says absolutely nothing – the rest is worth a read.

And before you start, don’t miss this gem from Vernon:

Q: Would you say 50%, 80%, 100% [of players are upset with Gaston]?

A: (Laughs) One of those percents, yes.

Wow. More to come.

VERNON WELLS:

There are issues, obviously. If something obviously of that magnitude comes out, obviously there’s some truth behind what comes up. It’s tough for something like that to be stirred up and completely be fabricated. I think some of the issues that go on need to stay in here and be taken care of as a group. That’s something that will obviously play itself out over these next three days and over the course of the off-season.

Q: If there is a delegation appointed to speak to management, will you be one of the leaders?

Whatever goes on, obviously yeah, I’m going to be in the middle of it. Doc [Roy Halladay] and I have been here for the longest time and we’ve gone through our share of managers and coaches. Whatever situations need to go on, and whatever talks need to be made, obviously we’ll be at the forefront of those meetings and discussions.

Q: Has it been since Day 1 of this season, or has there been a moment in time during the course of the season that broke the camel’s back?

Over the course of eight months you’re going to have issues arise. You’re going to have problems and complications. You listen to guys around the clubhouse, and you listen to guys talk, and you listen to different people’s situations, and just different things have kind of gone in a downward spiral just throughout the whole year …

Q: What can you tell us about the issues that you refer to?

Those issues, I’m not in a position to go out and tell other people’s stories and go out and try to bash Cito. It’s not about bashing anybody. It’s about issues that we’re having as an organization, and issues that need to be taken care of as an organization.

Q: Have you attempted to talk to Cito about these issues?

I have not yet. I think that obviously the time is going to come. For some of these discussions I was going to wait until this weekend and kind of clear the air and get some things out there, probably from both sides. I’m sure he has things to say. I’m sure guys have things to say. It remains to be seen how that conversation’s going to go.

Q: Is it your personal intent to do that one on one, or to have a meeting? What was your plan?

This is all kind of happening kind of quickly, to be honest with you. I’ve talked with a couple guys and we’re trying to go about this as professionally as possible. Once we figure that out, obviously you guys will find out since you’ve already found out this much.

Q: Have these issues ever been as bad in this clubhouse during your time here?

No.

Q: Is that’s what driving you guys to act?

What course of action we’re going to take, we don’t know. We’re a family. We go through issues. We have to figure out how to do this in a family manner. Like I said, we’re not out to bash anyone in this situation. It’s a touchy situation. It’s something that obviously most of us, if not all of us in this clubhouse, have not gone through something like this …

Q: This could be interpreted as the players blaming the manager for a season that didn’t go too well. That’s not necessarily your point, is it?

Is it my point? I’ve sucked, period. It’s not his fault, it’s not anybody’s fault. It’s my fault. So as you look around a team full of guys and listen as things go on, this is not about winning and losing. This is about family issues. Obviously, if something comes out and we’ve won our last nine out of 10 games, it’s not about the winning and losing.

Q: Is it about communication?

I think there’s been communication issues with some guys. I think there’s been different issues with different guys. That’s one of them, yes.

Q: Are the problems in the relationship to the point where it would be difficult for this team to play under Cito next year?

I can’t answer that question. I don’t know who’s going to be here next year. I don’t know what moves are going to be made. It all boils down to us playing better on the field. It’s the 25 guys that are willing and committed to trying to get better, and kind of leaving the extracurricular activities to the side and try to concentrate on winning ball games.

Q: When you said earlier about clearing the air, do you see it as a large meeting or a smaller group getting together for that purpose?

I’m sure there’ll be a meeting and I’m sure there’ll be a large group. Like I said, this is a family. We’re all in this together, good or bad, and the discussions will probably be had with pretty much the entire group.

Q: Who will you meet with?

Don’t know yet. I’ve spent pretty much the day with Aaron [Hill] and Rod [Barajas], and we’ve all kind of just been like, ‘What are we going to do? What’s going to happen, especially once we get to the field, and how’s it going to be the next three days with all this coming up?’ The details I don’t know yet.

Q: Have you talked to general manager J.P. Ricciardi or interim president Paul Beeston about your concerns?

No.

Q: Have you talked to them at any point during season about these issues?

No, not really. It’s kind of just been talked about in here …

Q: Have a lot of the younger players been asking you questions to have you maybe guide them through what’s probably maybe a unique experience for them?

I’ve talked to a lot of people on this team, and they’ve all had a lot of questions. Obviously, a lot of those questions I can’t repeat. It’s something that we’re trying to deal with.

Q: Are you the go-to guy for players who have these issues? Are you about the first person to hear from everyone?

I don’t know. Maybe. Some guys, yes, I know. We’re going to have issues. That’s the bottom line. It’s just a matter of trying to keep those issues to a minimum and try to keep them from boiling over. Obviously, unfortunately it’s gotten to the point where things have kind of boiled over.

Q: Would you say 50%, 80%, 100% [of players are upset with Gaston]?

(Laughs) One of those percents, yes.

AARON HILL:

I don’t really have much to say.

Q: Are you part of a clear leadership group?

The guys who are going to be here the next couple years, I think everybody’s a part of it. This is our team. The guys that we’ve had the whole year, we’ve stuck together and we’ve done a great job with it, too. We’ve got a great group of guys and maybe we’ll get together and see how things work out.

Q: Get together with?

I don’t know. That’s something we’ll talk about.

Q: You said the players have done a great job with “it”? What do you mean by “it”?

Great job, just staying together. It really hasn’t even, no matter what has happened, it hasn’t separated any of the guys. We’ve got a tight-knit group of guys and I think it’s kept us pretty strong. It’s good to see, but you hate anything like this coming out. You have to deal with it.

Q: Is the story true?

I think there are some things that need to be addressed, yes.

Q: Is this something that needs to be addressed before next year?

Obviously, the story is out, so I’m sure there will be some things that will come up over the next month or so. I don’t think there’s any rush to get anything out. But, we’ll see.

Q: Are these different opinions, or is it one voice from clubhouse?

I think everybody pretty much feels the same, for the most part. Everything that’s gone on with the team, we’ve stayed together. It’s one of those things where as a whole I think they’ll stay together …

Q: Could this turn into a good thing in terms of veteran guys stepping up and showing leadership?

I guess, yes. It’s just something that I guess you don’t really like anything coming out like that, but in that sense, yeah, some guys will speak out and take control of the team. So it’s something we’ve been lacking, so I guess it would be a possible thing for guys to grab this team and go in the right direction.

Q: Do you expect a small meeting? A group meeting?

I think it’s up to everybody. I think the door will probably be open to whoever wants to be a part of it and we’ll see. Everything’s public now, so I’m sure you guys will know about it in the next couple days.

Q: Is the relationship salvageable between the manager and players?

I think any relationship is salvageable, but on both sides there’s got to be a little give and take. From that part of it, we’ll see what happens.

ROD BARAJAS:

Q: Were you talking with Aaron Hill and Vernon Wells after this came out?

We were. We didn’t come to a conclusion on how this should be approached and what should be said. It caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to see anything written down. I’m just so surprised from reading that.

Q: What are the issues?

I’m not going to get into details on what the issues are. On any team, you’re always going to have issues and they’re going to come up, and as players and teammates you try to figure out ways to deal with them. I’m not going to sit here and say this is what’s wrong or that’s what’s wrong, or this needs to change. For me, I’m not in a situation to sit here and criticize people and give reasons for why things aren’t going the way we think they should.

Q: Is this the most upset a clubhouse has been in your experience?

No, I’ve been on teams where relationships with managers and players aren’t always the best and that easily makes for an unhappy clubhouse and usually you’re not going to have too much success on the field. It happens. Probably to a lot more teams than people think. Usually it doesn’t come out. It stays in house.

Q: Do certain things need to change for you to come back the Jays next year? (Barajas is a free agent after the season.)

Honestly, I haven’t thought about that. Like I’ve been saying before in the past, I love the guys in this clubhouse. I have a good time when I come to the field. I enjoy my teammates’ company and for me that’s the main thing — to be somewhere where the guys who I play with, the guys who I go out on the field with, I enjoy being around and are positive influences in the clubhouse.

Q: Do these issues need to be resolved before next year?

If there’s problems, absolutely. They always have to get figured out. You can’t sit there and let problems linger. A small problem starts growing into a bigger problem and all of a sudden if you let this go for another four months, who knows what could happen? So, if there are some issues, then absolutely you’d want to be able to talk to whoever you need to talk to to try to resolve them. You don’t want to go into a brand new season with a whole set of issues. It’s going to make for an unhappy season.

ROY HALLADAY:

I’ve got nothing for you guys on that. Any concerns or views I have will be expressed, but to the right people.

• • •

LYLE OVERBAY:

I can’t speak for everyone. I can speak for myself. You’re going to have to ask them. It’s been the same since the beginning for me. I wanted tio play every day. I don’t expect him to make 25 guys happy, so I don’t expect him to change just to make me happy. That’s my situation. It’s been evident since the beginning of the season.

Q: Is this something you have talked to the manager about, or tried to talk to him about?

I’ve contemplated about it. Just because at the beginning of the year we were winning, it’s got to be for the better of the team. That’s kind of the way I look at it. I didn’t want to be a distraction. I didn’t want that to be a distraction. I’m putting that on the side burner, but on the same token now, we’re not really winning, so I just might sit down and say I just want to more than anything just to try to figure out what to expect next year, ‘cause it kind of did hit me off guard a little bit when I wasn’t playing every day. It’s something that I need to go in the off-season and get myself prepared and hopefully next year will be different.

Q: And he didn’t talk to you about that?

No. I think [Gaston] has been quoted twice in I don’t know which newspaper but at the beginning of the season that it wasn’t a platoon role, but it didn’t happen that way.

Q: Do other players have maybe not the same kind of complaint you have but other types of issues with communication, his approach, that he’s a very old-school type of guy?

It is old-school. I think when you have a younger group in here, it kind of hit us a little harder. It kind of caught us off guard more than anything. Still, he’s the manager. He’s putting the lineup out there. We’ve still got to go out and do a job. That’s the thing. Not everyone is going to be happy. If you try to make 25 guys happy you’re going to make them even more miserable, I think.

Q: Is there a difference in his style, in his communication, between last year when you were winning, and this year?

No, it’s the same … He never really said a lot. We were winning. He was just kind of sitting on the back burner and watching us play good and watching us do the things we were doing. He’s doing the same thing now, so nothing’s different.

Q: Have the players lost respect for him?

I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them.

Q: How about you?

I haven’t lost respect for him. Like I said, I don’t want to be a distraction, just because this is a team thing and I don’t want for me to say something that might offend somebody that’s going to affect the team.

Q: There’s a group of players that wants to meet with [interim president] Paul Beeston to talk about the situation. Are you aware of that?

I heard that. I didn’t hear it from the players. I don’t know if it’s happening or not.

Q: When did you hear that?

A couple weeks ago, but I hadn’t heard anything since. I don’t know if it’s happened. I don’t know if I was reading it in the paper or something but Beeston was on vacation or something …

Q: It wasn’t from within the clubhouse that you heard that?

I’m trying to remember where I heard that. I don’t think I did. I’m trying to remember. I don’t know.

SCOTT DOWNS:

Q: Do you feel that the young guys in the bullpen need guidance?

Sometimes. That’s been hard. I’m not going to lie. I’ve never been in that leadership role because I’ve always looked up to (B.J. Ryan) and when all that went down [Ryan’s release} we talked about it. I told him I’m going to do everything that I can to keep it the same way you had it, which is hard because we have two different personalities. They do look to me, but I’m more laid-back when it comes to things like that. But if there’s somebody that wants to talk about anything, needs help with something then I’m always there.

It was apparent with the whole B.J. thing that something wasn’t right. I don’t exactly know between those two guys [Ryan and Gaston]. As a bullpen as a whole, we want to just give it the best shot we can. going out and pitching. But sometimes when you don’t know what you’re going to be asked to do, it’s kind of hard.”

-DL

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