Jays players not shocked by dismissal
Wells expresses mutual blame for team's sluggish performance
PITTSBURGH -- The writing was on the wall, said Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells concerning the dismissal of manager John Gibbons.
The midseason move came as no surprise to many inside the Blue Jays' clubhouse, partly because of Toronto's disappointing 35-39 record and last-place status in the American League East entering Friday's game against the Pirates.
Blue Jays management replaced Gibbons with previous Toronoto manager Cito Gaston.
"Obviously, it's not the most ideal situation that you would want," said Wells, who has been a part of four managerial changes with the Blue Jays since 1999. "It's something that none of us expected going into Spring Training with the type of team that we have.
"We underachieved. When you don't play up to your potential, the manager is usually the guy that goes."
Players were hesitant to say whether change was needed. But one thing is sure, this Blue Jays squad believes it's too talented to put up the numbers that it has.
"It really all starts with us," Wells said. "It's all on our shoulders. Obviously, the front office cannot sit around and let such a good team just continue along the same pattern."
Third baseman Scott Rolen holds a similar stance.
"It weighs on me a little bit that I didn't hold up my end of the deal," he said. "I wish that we would've played better ... and maybe things would have played differently.
"I'm not sure what the formula is. I know 25 guys need to go play baseball, and 25 guys needed to go play baseball yesterday."
Gaston, who led the Blue Jays to back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and '93, has the tough task of turning around one of the least productive offenses in the AL.
The 64-year-old said he has had little time to talk and interact with his new team. However, Gaston made weekly coaching appearances at Spring Training prior to this season and was Toronto's hitting coach during the 2000 and '01 seasons. The Jays batted .275 with a club-record 244 home runs in 2000.
"I love to work with him as far as hitting goes," Wells said of Gaston. "He knows what he's talking about. He's a great man and he demands that kind of respect from each of the players. It will be interesting to see if this team starts to turn it around."
Overall, this experience gives the Blue Jays a chance to step back and re-evaluate team goals.
"You take a look back at the season and try to figure out a way to turn this thing around," Wells said. "This definitely doesn't take the pressure off, that's for sure. When you make that kind of move, that kind of tells you really need to start turning things around."
Todd Krise is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.