BUFFERY: Smoak named team Jays team MVP

ST. PETERSBURG — First baseman Justin Smoak was selected the club’s Most Valuable Player this season. Smoak received 33 1/2 votes.

In second was rookie infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. with three, followed by outfielder Randal Grichuk (1 1/2) and Kevin Pillar (1). Blue Jays players, coaches and front office and support staff were allowed to split their votes.

It was the second consecutive team MVP for Smoak, who hit .242 with 77 RBI, 25 HRs 83 walks with an OBP of .350 and .457 slugging percentage. He also played his usual stalwart defence at first. Jays radio broadcaster Mike Wilner organizes the votes each season.

“It’s good,” Smoak said. “Wish we as a team could have been better, but hopefully some of these young guys have gotten some good experience and know what to expect coming into next year.”

MARTIN REWARDED FOR BEING A GOOD SOLDIER

Regular manager John Gibbons (who managed his last game as the Jays skipper on Saturday) let Russell Martin manage the final game of the season because he thought it would be a fun idea, but really, it was a pat on the back for the veteran catcher agreeing to take a back seat and allow the club to play up-and-coming catchers Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire this month as part of the rebuild. Martin hasn’t played since Sept. 3.

“For me, it was just one of those things where I get to sit back and watch the young kids kind of develop,” Martin said. “I was more of a coach in the last month than an actual player. But I was okay with it. Obviously I love to compete and I love being out there but at the same time I did enjoy watching the guys play and seeing their skills and what there are able to do on the field.”

The 35-year-old Martin had a down year offensively (.194 average, 10 homers, 25 RBI) and suggested that it’s not a given that he’ll be handed the No.1 catcher’s job next season.

“I’m getting older and kind of on my way out, so I’m going to have to scratch and claw my way back into the lineup somehow,” he said. “I definitely feel like I have a lot of good baseball left in me. So we’ll have to see. I’ll have to bring it next year.”

Martin said he was impressed with what he saw from Jansen and McGuire.

“They’re good, they’re good,” he said. “I think I like what Reese was doing behind the plate. I like how they receive. Danny’s a threat at the plate. At any given time, he can go deep. Behind the plate, I feel like he can polish up a little bit the receiving, but he’s already gotten a lot better.

“I like them both,” Martin, a four-time MLB all-star, added. “I feel like next year is going to be interesting at spring training. I told people I’d like to see a situation where nobody has a guaranteed job. Where if you show up ready and you’re the best player, then you deserve it. It would be nice to have that kind of competition at spring training next year.”

On a lighter note, when asked if he saw Gibbons during Sunday’s game, Martin replied: “Gibby was nowhere to be found today. I told Gibby, today’s my day.”

Gibbons watched Sunday’s game from the manager’s office in the visiting clubhouse.

Overall, Martin said he had a blast managing his first game.

“(But) I didn’t realize how much went into it, how much preparation, how much you have to think ahead. But cool experience,” he said. “It’s tougher than it looks. You got to know your personnel. You gotta be ready 20 pitches in advance almost, so you can get a different look at the match-ups. And in September when there seems like an endless amount of guys on the bench it’s crazy how many moves you can make. But overall I kept it simple, and I already knew going into the game pretty much who I was going to use and when I was going to use him. Didn’t get the result we hoped for, but it was still a fun experience.”

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies