MacArthur: Struggling Blue Jays hold players-only meeting

Scott MacArthur
7/23/2013 10:47:58 PM
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TORONTO - Sometimes it helps to just talk.

That's what Blue Jays' players did, for more than an hour behind closed doors, before Tuesday night's game against Los Angeles.

Details of what was said were scarce but on the heels of Monday night's embarrassing 14-5 loss to the Dodgers, you need not be a brain surgeon to figure out some of the likely topics covered.

One could bet the house words like pride, intensity and focus came up and often.

"Understanding that this game is a privilege to play in, and not taking anything for granted, and go out and having fun," said closer Casey Janssen. "Not think of the record, and all the other things. Just go out there and do your job and try to get a win."

"I don't think it can be a bad thing," said manager John Gibbons of the meeting. "It's actually quite common in the game."

"Whether they help or whether they don't help, I don't know," said Anthopoulos. "I mean, all the ones that I've seen, you never really know because they're players-only meetings and rarely do things come out of them in terms of people other than players finding out what's really said. I think that's the point of it. I think what good comes of it is the fact that players care enough to talk amongst themselves and there's an accountability there amongst the players to try to hash it out amongst themselves."

After Josh Johnson authored another horrendous outing, failing to record an out in the third inning, the Blue Jays made five errors. Some were purely physical, forgivable misplays which happen over the course of a long season. Others, like Dustin McGowan's misfire on a would-be double play comebacker and Adam Lind's whiff on an Andre Ethier ground ball, left one to wonder whether the collective cranium was lodged in the collective posterior.

"We don't have any real margin for error," said Janssen. "We need to play good ball, and just see what we can make of this thing. Hopefully we go on a run and have some meaningful games in September and try and sneak in there."

Accoring to Janssen, a handful of players remained in the clubhouse long after Monday's game ended. They were "talking shop," some grievances were aired and it was decided a broader group discussion would be beneficial.

"If people listen, maybe there's some good to come out of it," said Janssen. "If it doesn't, I guess we're not worse off than we were before. Hopefully we come together, hopefully everyone realizes that we have each other's backs and that we haven't quit. There are guys in this room that genuinely care about the season, care about each other, if nothing else for the most part, we're kind of tired of seeing the product that we're seeing on the field."

Getting the focus back on the field would be a good start.

Case in point: J.P. Arencibia. It's been a trying season, in which the catcher has regressed both offensively and defensively. Off the field, Arencibia has complained about criticism he's received from broadcast analysts, first publicly and then to Blue Jays' president Paul Beeston.

On Tuesday morning, Arencibia shut down his Twitter account but not before tweeting the reason why. Saying he was fed up with negative feedback, Arencibia thanked his supporters and offered to pray for his "haters" before signing off.

The ball club doesn't need bad publicity when it's avoidable and player-created.

A symptom of a season gone so, so wrong.

"You only have players-only meetings when you're not playing well," said Anthopoulos.

Casey Janssen (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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