Beeston on Rasmus extension, Jays attendance

Colby Rasmus. (Gail Burton/AP)

Toronto Blue Jays president Paul Beeston isn’t concerned with the team’s attendance numbers.

Beeston appeared on Baseball Central and acknowledged that the Blue Jays’ failure to live up to expectations in 2013 broke the fans’ trust. The Blue Jays currently rank 22nd in MLB in average attendance, but Beeston expects those numbers to improve drastically if the club remains in the playoff race.

“If we’re playing well in July, the attendance will be there,” Beeston said on Sportsnet Fan 590. “I’m not worried about that. Last year we kind of broke their trust. Everyone anticipated we’d be playing in October so they (are saying) ‘show me and why should I come back?’

“Quite frankly, we’ve had some good weekends but it’s been quiet during the week. I look at who were playing and the fact that we have to build that back. As we win, the fans will be back. The TV ratings are good and more importantly the team is playing entertaining baseball.”

Beeston echoed comments he made to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, explaining that attendance has picked up in recent weeks.

“Absolutely demand is picking up,” Beeston told Grange. “I’m disappointed where we’re at but we’re better off now than we were two weeks ago and we’re better off than now than we were two years ago.”

If the 34-24 Blue Jays stay in the race, they expect to be able to add pieces at the July 31 trade deadline.

“There’s no magic number for attendance,” Beeston said. “If there’s a deal it’s not going to be money that determines if it’s going to be done, it’s going to be wins. If we’re winning we’ll do it. I hope we have that opportunity.”

NO EXTENSION TALKS WITH COLBY: Beeston said there are no imminent discussions regarding a contract extension with centre fielder Colby Rasmus, who is scheduled to be a free agent after the season.

While the team may have interest in retaining the injured outfielder, Beeston does not want any negotiations to interfere with the 2014 season.

“I think it’ll wait until the end of the year,” Beeston said. “I don’t know what direction we’ll go. It’s a matter of time doing it right in the context of the overall team. We hope Colby gets back quickly. You want to look at this and make sure that you know exactly what’s happening and you’ll have to play it out so it doesn’t taking away from what we do.”

At the same time, Beeston did say that Rasmus enjoys playing in Toronto and warned that the grass may not be greener if he decides to depart as a free agent.

“If you talk to Colby, he’d tell you he likes playing in Toronto,” Beeston said. “He likes his teammates. If he didn’t like the manager or where he was playing and if he didn’t like the city or country, that’d be a different story. Coming from the South (United States) into the cold, that doesn’t seem to bother him. The real point is players migrate to teams they think they have a chance to win. The grass isn’t always greener. If we want him, we’ll go after him.”

THE LATEST ON GRASS: Beeston also commented on the recent report that the Toronto Argonauts won’t be included in the BMO Field renovation plans from Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

Beeston said it would be unfair to conclude that the Blue Jays are kicking the Argonauts out of the Rogers Centre as part of their plan to install a natural grass playing field. He said he has given the Argonauts at least seven years of notice to find a place to play for the 2018 season.
“We’ve been open and honest with good communication with the Argos. I hope it works out.”

From the Blue Jays’ perspective, Beeston explained why it is critical for the team to modify the playing surface to natural grass.

“It’s very important for us to get grass. We’re one of the two teams that don’t have it. We don’t want to rest players because of the turf. We want to be like the rest of baseball and attract free agents.”

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