After a historically awful start to the season, the Toronto Blue Jays have been steadily improving their record, winning six of their last seven games and marching toward .500.
According to second baseman Devon Travis, manager John Gibbons is a big reason why the team has been able to steady the ship after a very rough start to the year.
“I could not speak enough on how great it is to play for a manager like Gibby,” said Travis, who joined The Andrew Walker Show on Tuesday to talk about Gibbons, the team’s recent success, and his own remarkable turnaround after a slow start to the season.
“He’s always got your back, first and foremost, but I think the coolest thing about him is how relaxed he is. I mean, I’m sure you guys see him in the dugout chewing sunflower seeds or leaning back on the wall with his arms crossed, chilling. That’s kind of his personality every single day, through the good times and bad times. He’s the same exact guy.”
The most important thing in baseball, Travis said, is consistency: being the same person day in, day out, and taking the same approach no matter your performance or your team’s. “It all starts up top,” he said of Gibbons.
The Blue Jays manager has been a key part of the team’s resilience amidst all those losses, but Travis also credits his teammates — everyone from Josh Donaldson to Russell Martin to Darwin Barney — for helping him recover from his own slump.
After enduring a terrible April at the plate (his OPS at the end of that month was .582), Travis has been on fire. The 26-year-old leads the majors in doubles and has seen his OPS rise to .742.
“I mean, I probably could name at one point every single guy, from coaches to pitchers to hitters to my dad to so many people just contributing positivity toward me and putting a helping hand behind me and just lifting me up and telling me to keep going and continue to trust the process and that everything happens for a reason,” he said of his early season slump. “Those tough times do nothing but make you stronger and make you a better player and I truly just can’t thank the people around me enough for all that.”
Barney, in particular, spent time with Travis, giving him advice and talking through the mental challenges of the game.
“You know, there’s people in this game that you get to play with that you’ll be friends with the rest of your life, and there’s people in this game that really care about you, not just on the field but off the field and want to help you in all facets,” Travis said. “And Barney’s one of those guys for everybody on this entire team.”
“He just took me to the batting cages one day after a game and it wasn’t so much what I was doing with my swing. It was more so mental stuff. I don’t want to say too much ‘cause he’s truly helped me so much that I went home that day and I tried to jot down every single thing he ever told me, hoping that one day I could pass that along to someone who’s maybe going through a familiar situation.”
Travis said his struggles were humbling in a way that made him appreciate everything he has in the game. “I never will under-appreciate the good times,” he said. “I’m just continuing to try to show up to the field every day, prepare myself and take it one at-bat at a time, one pitch at a time.”
The Blue Jays still face an uphill battle to climb their way out of the division basement, and the team will be taking that same approach.
“That was our goal all along was just to stay the course, continue to fight, continue to show up every day,” he said. “That was Gibby’s biggest message to us and we believe in that.”