Farrell: Club had met with Escobar before incident
Blue Jays manager says he discussed 'baseball things' with shortstop
NEW YORK -- Blue Jays manager John Farrell informed a group of reporters before Thursday's game at Yankee Stadium that the incident that cost shortstop Yunel Escobar a three-game suspension was not the first time the two have sat down to talk about "issues."
When asked to elaborate on what the private conversation was about, Farrell said "baseball things." After being pressed for specifics from reporters, such as Escobar hogging infield popups from his teammates, Farrell once again responded with "baseball things."
Rumors have swirled since Escobar's time in Atlanta that he is a problem in the clubhouse, which no one in the Toronto organization has openly said, even after his ill-advised decision to inscribe his eye-black stickers with a homophobic slur written in Spanish during a game Saturday.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said that sit-downs with players are a common occurrence for both him and Farrell, but the GM said those conversations are, generally, kept in-house.
"No player is perfect, and that is from the superstars to the utility guys. There are always conversations that take place," Anthopoulos said. "We just don't broadcast it to the media.
"Just like anything else, you have private conversations behind closed doors. It's a family; you don't need to broadcast them to the media. At times they are, you've seen it in sports, but I don't think it needs to be. Those are things that we handle internally."
Escobar will return to the Blue Jays' lineup Friday night in St. Petersburg, where the team will open a three-game set against the Rays, and Farrell plans on starting him right away. The 29-year-old Escobar will not return to Toronto until Sept. 27, when the team finishes its season with seven games at home.
How Escobar will be received in Toronto, a diverse city with a large gay and lesbian community, remains to be seen.
"Unfortunately we're having to deal with it -- Yunel and everyone else in this uniform is having to deal with it, and it hasn't made anybody happy -- I can honestly tell you that," Farrell said. "What he's going to encounter in Toronto is yet to be seen, but I'm expecting I will sit down with him.
"We can't fully replicate what lies ahead; we don't know that, but he's got a better understanding that he went over the line."
Anthopoulos doesn't believe the potential backlash that Escobar may receive is something that can be prepared for.
"I don't know that you can," the GM said. "He knows he screwed up to say the least -- to put it lightly. In time, he is not the first human being to screw up in a context like this, in other contexts in sports," Anthopoulos said.
Does Anthopoulos wish the Blue Jays handled this situation any differently?
"The bottom line is, you're never going to satisfy everybody no matter what you do. I don't think there's anything unanimous in life that's done," Anthopoulos said. "I think it's really about how do we handle things going forward. Even my eyes have been opened up in terms of just the league, players, what we can do."
Part of the moving forward that Anthopoulos spoke of is educating not only Escobar, but others on the topic.
"There is definitely things being set up with the groups, specifically You Can Play out of Toronto, and Yunel will be working with them. No matter what happens, it's not going to change the game plan for him and what he needs to do," Anthopoulos said.
Anthopoulos said he believes the league is looking to educate on the subject and regardless if the league imposes training sessions on the topic, the team will strongly consider doing something.
"The league does media training, all kinds of training. I don't know that there is specific training for things like this. But I think the league is looking into more specific training," Anthopoulos said. "This has happened in our league two or three times now. So, certainly from our organization's standpoint, we have looked at it as well."
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.