On Saturday afternoon before the Toronto Blue Jays third game against the Detroit Tigers, Charlie Montoyo was interacting with the fans. From signing autographs to participating in photo shoots, Montoyo was evidently jubilant.
He has every reason to be. The night before, the Blue Jays’ offense finally got going, generating six runs in the team’s first win of the season. After 3,000-plus games in the minor leagues, Montoyo secured his first win as an MLB manager.
“Now I can retire, I have a win at every level,” stated Montoyo.
What is normal practice when a historical feat such as this is achieved? The manager gets to keep the game ball and scorecard. Not only did this happen, but the players threw Montoyo a post-game celebration for the ages. The manager experienced his first beer shower as a member of the Blue Jays, an encouraging sign that Montoyo has already developed a positive reputation in the locker room.
— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) March 30, 2019
Montoyo’s Minor League Experience Made Him Prime Candidate for Blue Jays Managerial Job
Baseball has been an integral part of Montoyo’s life. While playing baseball at Louisiana Tech University, Montoyo was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1986 draft. He quickly became aware of Canadian baseball culture when he was traded to the Montréal Expos. Playing in the major leagues, he only recorded two hits and three RBIs. One of those hits came at Olympic Stadium in Montréal, taking on the Colorado Rockies.
Called in to pinch hit, Montoyo gott the critical RBI-single off left-hander Gary Wayne, giving the Expos the 4-3 victory.
“I’m never going to forget having my first hit of two here,” Montoyo said. “That’s a memory that I’m always going to have.
After retiring from the game in 1996, Montoyo began a two-decade-long career managing in the minor leagues. Most notably, Montoyo led the Tampa Bay Rays Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls to elaborate success. In seven seasons with the Bulls, Montoyo put together a unit that only had one losing season. He won Manager of the Year twice, as well as winning two International League championships for the Bulls.
“Obviously, the success we had on the field was important, but Charlie’s impact transcended wins and losses,” Bulls general manager Mike Birling said. “He is a part of our Bulls family and we are so proud today.”
The Toronto Blue Jays were at a critical juncture. John Gibbons had resigned and the team was looking for a different direction at manager. Montoyo seemed a perfect choice. His blend of analytics knowledge, while creating the environment for players to succeed, made him the perfect candidate to transition to the major leagues.
“Charlie is passionate about the game, with a superior ability to connect and relate,” says Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins. “We are super lucky to have him.”
Montoyo Optimistic about Future of Blue Jays
Montoyo’s first two wins as the Blue Jays manager have been defined by the team’s dominant pitching. On Friday, Matt Shoemaker, after battling several illnesses, got his first win of the season, going seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.
Saturday’s game was no different for Aaron Sanchez in his first game back after an injury-plagued 2018 season. Sanchez went five innings, and in four of them, he got out of jams with runners in scoring position.
”Sanchez was outstanding,” Montoyo said. ”He was in control the whole time.”
Sanchez, a career 3.44 ERA pitcher, is eager to get back to the form of 2016, where he went 15-2 with an AL-leading 3.00 ERA.
”I was just trying to match what the other two guys did the two days before me,” Sanchez said.
The season is in its early days. Players have not yet seen the Charlie Montoyo who gets after them for not performing. While the honeymoon phase won’t last forever, it is evident that Montoyo wants to build deep connections with his players. Despite this team being labeled as an organization “undergoing a rebuild,” Montoyo is unwavering in his mission to make the product on the field better every day.
“I’m very happy to be here, and I’m not taking any minute for granted. (I’m) thankful, grateful, I’m going to give you all I got, that’s all I know,” says Montoyo.
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