Blue Jays’ Shapiro talks Guerrero Jr.’s progress, team struggles

Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro joins Baseball Central to discuss his overview of 2019 so far, what he's liked best and what has him the most excited about the team's future.

When the Toronto Blue Jays first called up Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the team swept the Oakland Athletics in three games with the star rookie registering a hit in each contest.

Since then, however, the team has lost seven of eight and Guerrero has gone cold, batting .120 over 28 plate appearances with eight strikeouts and only three walks.

Mark Shapiro said he won’t put a specific date on when Guerrero’s progress will be evaluated by the team, but the Blue Jays president isn’t concerned about the third baseman’s first MLB slump.

“There have been very few players in the history of the game who have just arrived and the magic dust just made them incredible players from Day 1,” Shapiro told Baseball Central on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Wednesday. “Part of transitioning to another level is understanding that they’re now going to be exposed to a different level of information, a different level of ability to exploit and use that information and be attacked and attack hitters. Different set of pressures, different set of anxieties, along with a different set of resources.”

Guerrero told Sportsnet Tuesday following a 3-0 loss to the Twins that he sometimes tries to hit the ball too hard, adding that he has to control his emotion and just try hitting the ball up the middle.

“It’s a process of helping them settle in,” Shapiro said of Guerrero and the other young players on the roster. “If you believe in the talent and the track record then those things are going to translate over time. How fast that happens, that’s the biggest challenge about where we are.”

Baseball Central
An early review of the Blue Jays season with Mark Shapiro
May 08 2019

Shapiro also pointed out most players end up going back to triple-A, but made no mention about whether or not the team is considering that for Guerrero at this time.

The Blue Jays had been among the oldest teams in baseball for several years running yet this season is a different story with management injecting plenty of youth besides the 20-year-old Guerrero into the lineup.

“Even when we lose it’s a good environment and there’s good work getting done and I think if we continue to stay that course – if we’re tough enough and strong enough and resolved enough to stick with the plan and not panic – that good things are gonna happen,” Shapiro said. “History will tell you that and my own experiences lead me to believe that and know that.”

Long-term success is the obvious goal, but the short-term struggles that occur along the way can frustrate veteran players and those in the prime of their career.

Starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez spoke from the heart and called out his teammates a week ago after a disappointing effort against the Los Angeles Angels.

“It was f–––––– brutal, to be honest,” Sanchez said. “I mean, we played so well. We go out there and sweep Oakland who’s a pretty good team and then you come out here and just get embarrassed. It’s not fun when you go out there and guys just weren’t ready to play, I felt like. It is what it is.”

The Blue Jays are nearly at the quarter point of the season and haven’t been above .500 since the third game of the year.

They’ll look to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Twins Wednesday before hosting the White Sox for a three-game series beginning Friday.

“Nobody likes to lose, whether it’s the fans, whether it’s the front office, whether it’s the players, the reality of the juncture that we’re at is we’re gonna have weeks, nights where it’s extremely encouraging and you feel positive,” Shapiro said. “Then the nature of competing, the nature of professional sports are there are gonna be stretches where it feels really terrible and we’re all frustrated and we all hate it and as a leader we don’t have the luxury of wallowing in that.

“We’ve got to pull back, look at the longer-term trajectory and make sure good things are happening [all throughout the system] and that we’re doing everything humanly possible to control what we can control to get better.”

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