TORONTO - Twenty playoff-free seasons and counting may lead one to conclude the Blue Jays are stuck, spinning their wheels, in a culture of defeat.
Just don't expect general manager Alex Anthopoulos to wade into this particular fray.
"I guess it depends what you define it as," said Anthopoulos during Tuesday's media gathering. "When you're losing, you're losing but I don't define it that way. To me, it comes down to none of those players in there don't not want to perform and not want to do well and not want to win games. You guys are in there when we don't win. I don't think anyone's happy about it. No one likes coming to the ballpark. We'd prefer to win. I think that goes without saying."
With 60 wins in 134 games, the Blue Jays are on pace for 72 or 73 victories. That 73 number is key in two areas: first, it would mean 89 defeats and the avoidance of the club's first 90-loss season since 2004 and only the sixth in franchise history (the first four happened in the post-expansion years from 1977-1980).
Anthopoulos routinely consults with manager John Gibbons, Gibbons says he's offered repeated input on the team's shortcomings over the course of the season, and feels he has a handle on some of the intangible issues plaguing the club.
The problem is different people have different opinions on something like leadership and whether the clubhouse lacks a true spokesman. How should leadership be defined? Does leadership matter in a sport like baseball?
"We've talked about that," said Anthopoulos. "We just don't know how far to take it. There have been some subjective things.
"I've been here in years past where players get a label of this or that and then they go somewhere else and they do well," he continued. "I just think it's a dangerous, slippery slope and you have to be careful. I think a lot of it comes down to production. When a player's production slips now the other aspects of his game come out. It's amazing how much our opinions of players change when the production changes."
Anthopoulos, for as long as it's his choice, appears prepared to stand behind his manager.
It will be up to the general manager, more than anyone else, to ensure 2014 isn't a repeat of this lost season.
"I still believe we have the makings of a good team that needs work, that needs changes and that needs health," said Anthopoulos. "We didn't play the way we expected to. I think that goes without saying. I'd say not only the way that we as an organization did, I think almost everybody across the game, in baseball, expected us to be a good team."
JANSSEN ON RIVERA
From one closer to another, Casey Janssen marvels at the continued success and the career put together by Yankees' legend Mariano Rivera.
"Just how professional he's been on and off the field," said Janssen. "How he's carried himself in arguably the biggest baseball city in baseball. Not only that, he's come through more times than not in his career. To have the saves lead is great for him and just an honour to watch him and a pleasure to be able to play on the same field as him."
Rivera spent an hour with 20 Blue Jays' employees before Tuesday's game. He's conducted similar audiences in each road city over the course of this, his final season in baseball.
Janssen, like almost every pitcher in the history of baseball, has more than one pitch in his repertoire.
How does he feel about Rivera's ability, since 1995, to get hitters out with his one pitch, the cut fastball?
"It's amazing," said Janssen. "I wish I could learn that pitch I guess. I don't know what he does. I'd love to stand in the box one time. It's not going to happen, but just to see what makes it so different. He's got a gift. It's effortless. He seems to pitch in every situation that he's called upon to pitch. He's the best."
- Colby Rasmus (strained left oblique) didn't begin baseball activities on Monday, as scheduled, after suffering a setback.
The Blue Jays can't set a timetable for Rasmus' return until his injury heals. At the moment, the club believes Rasmus will play again this season.
- Steve Delabar threw a scoreless inning for the Gulf Coast Blue Jays on Wednesday morning.
It was Delabar's first game action since August 2 in Anaheim. He was placed on the disabled list the next day with right shoulder inflammation.
- Dustin McGowan was scheduled to throw a side session in Dunedin on Wednesday as he rehabs a strained oblique.
- Josh Johnson visited with famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who confirmed the previous diagnosis of a strained right forearm.
Andrews has ordered Johnson two weeks of rest, effectively ending any chance the right-hander will return to the Blue Jays this season.
- Brett Cecil, who missed the Yankees series with a tired left shoulder, says he'll be ready to pitch when the Jays open a series with Kansas City on Friday.