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Blue Jays fire Montoyo, name bench coach John Schneider interim manager

Toronto sits a half-game up on the Mariners for the third wild-card spot

Matthew Roberson New York Daily News

The manager ax found another victim on Wednesday, as the Blue Jays’ Charlie Montoyo became the third skipper to be fired this season.

Montoyo, 56, was in his fourth year as Blue Jays’ manager. His team, picked by many to win the American League East and compete for a spot in the World Series, was 46-42 at the time of his firing.

The Angels’ Joe Maddon and the Phillies’ Joe Girardi are the other managers who were fired before even reaching the All-Star break. Blue Jays bench coach John Schneider has been named interim manager for the remainder of the season.

Toronto is in fourth place in the division, behind the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox. As of Wednesday morning, they were also a half-game up on the Mariners for the third wild-card spot, meaning the Blue Jays fired a manager who would have gotten them to the playoffs if the season ended today.

But alas, the season does not end today.

There are several underlying factors here that reek of disappointment, especially for a team that went all in like the Jays did this offseason. Major League Baseball’s lone Canadian team is 2-8 in their last 10 games, has a 20-24 record away from home, and has only outscored its opponents by 10 runs this season.

The Blue Jays started strong, posting a 14-8 record in April, but have begun the month of July on a 3-9 skid, marred by a five-game losing streak and a recent four-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, a team in direct competition with them for a postseason berth.

Pitching has been an issue for the Blue Jays all season.

Starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-0) was supposed to be a central part of Toronto’s rotation this year but had Tommy John surgery on June 18. The typical recovery time of the operation is 12-18 months.

Yusei Kikuchi (3-5), who signed with the Blue Jays during spring training, has struggled with his command this year. He has a 5.12 earned-run average over 16 games this season and is currently on the 15-day injured list.

Montoyo’s tenure ends with him exactly at .500. Under his guidance, the Blue Jays went 236-236.

He was a longtime coach in the Rays’ organization before landing with Toronto. Montoyo was the Rays’ third base coach from 2015-17 and served as bench coach in 2018 before moving north of the border. Prior to joining the Rays’ major league staff, he managed their Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls from 2007 to 2014.

As a player, he appeared in 1,028 minor league games and all of four major league ones. His only taste of The Show came in 1993, when he made five plate appearances for the Montreal Expos, gathering two hits and three RBIs. A native of Puerto Rico who played collegiately at Louisiana Tech, Montoyo had been coaching in professional baseball since 1997.

His managerial days in the Tampa Bay system included stints at rookie ball, Low-A, Single-A, High-A, Double-A and Triple-A. His 1,501 wins as a minor league manager over 22 seasons speaks to how long it took for him to get an MLB chance.

With Montoyo’s firing, the Red Sox’s Alex Cora is the only Latin-born manager in the big leagues. The Yankees’ next series with the Blue Jays is set for August 18-21 at Yankee Stadium.

— with a file from The Canadian Press

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