Blue Jays’ Schneider won’t spill the beans on reported meeting with Ohtani

Blue Jays Manager John Schneider was asked about Shohei Ohtani and if the Jay have had any recent meetings with him.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A MasterClass in how to stay on message, featuring Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider working hard to not lie about meeting with Shohei Ohtani at the team’s Player Development Complex in Dunedin, Fla.

Did the meeting happen?

“We meet with a lot of players. I’ll leave it at that,” the manager replied during his Winter Meetings availability Tuesday to the first query about a meeting, as reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic late Monday night. “It’s kept between the club.”

Were you at the meeting? You look tanned.

“I live in Florida,” he said to the second. “Who we meet with and where we meet with them, we keep to ourselves.”

When you did meet with him, did he give you an idea of when he’s making a decision and if the Blue Jays are under serious consideration?

“Again, we talk to a lot of different players,” Schneider answered to the third. “And I wouldn’t know anything like that, where he’s leaning or anything like that. But again, we deal with a lot of different players.”

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Did you come out of the meeting feeling good?

“Again, it’s a lot of players we’ve talked to over the course of this off-season,” he replied to the fourth. “I’ll keep that between me and the organization.”

Suffice to say, Ohtani met with the Blue Jays in Dunedin on Monday, because there’s no reason to work so hard to avoid saying yes if it didn’t happen, as a simple no would shut down the conversation in that case.

Now, whether all the evasiveness was necessary is another matter.

Dave Roberts, manager of a Los Angeles Dodgers team long considered the favourite to land for Ohtani, took a far different approach moments later when asked if he’s able to say whether they’d met with the two-way superstar.

“Am I able to say that? It’s a good possibility,” he started before shifting gears. “Yeah, we met with him. I would like to be honest, and so we met with Shohei and we talked and I think it went well. I think it went well. But at the end of the day, he’s his own man and he’s going to do what’s best for himself, where he feels most comfortable.”

The meeting, Roberts added, was at Dodger Stadium a couple days ago, the forthrightness negating the need for people to try and identify possible corresponding travel itineraries using online flight trackers, as one Blue Jays fan on Twitter did.

In that way, Roberts’ honesty was refreshing, especially after Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins treated his whereabouts like a national security risk Monday, amid a process so cloaked in secrecy that teams are fearful that the smallest of missteps might cost them with the 29-year-old.

Speaking in general terms, Schneider did offer the usual praise for Ohtani, pointing out that “what he does is obviously unique to the sport.”

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“Pitching, hitting, he can run, dangerous in the box, obviously. You always know when he’s coming up in the order. A talent that the game hasn’t seen in quite some time, if ever,” Schneider continued. “So I think his entire game is what is driving all of the attention around him right now.”

And as for the hopes that the Blue Jays might land Ohtani, Schneider conceded that “you see and hear the buzz around you a little bit and I think it’s cool to have that go with an already really strong team, that’s really talented and wanting to take that next step. It’s nice for everyone to kind of hear some possibilities. There are a lot of good players on the market that are probably going to be available.”

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