Royalty suits Gibbons just fine

KEN FIDLIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

KANSAS CITY -- There are no regrets, no hard feelings but anybody who spent time with John Gibbons over the past few years knew that was how it would be.

Gibbons is a baseball man who never hides from reality. He managed the Blue Jays for four seasons and when the end came last June 20, he didn't try to make any excuses or blame anyone but himself.

"I knew that if we got off to a slow start, this was coming and to be honest, maybe a change was needed, both for the team and for me," Gibbons said yesterday.

"Sometimes a team needs a fresh face and that's just a reality of this business. I have no regrets, no second thoughts."

Now the bench coach for manager Trey Hillman's Kansas City Royals, Gibbons has shed 20 pounds and a mountain of stress. He spent the better part of last summer at home with his family in San Antonio, a rare treat for a baseball lifer, who normally spends about eight months of the year away from home.

"I had a nice summer with my family. It was good to be able to be there for my sons who have got shortchanged so much," he said.

But when summer turned to fall, Gibbons knew he needed to get back in the game. He made some calls, put some lines in the water and then waited.

"I started calling general managers in September, just asking that if there were any openings after the season, to keep me in mind. One of the people I called was Dayton Moore (K.C.'s general manager). Trey and I have been friends for a long time but they weren't planning on any changes at that point."

But things soon changed and after one meeting, Gibbons was hired to be Hillman's eyes and ears on the bench, making sure the manager knows all his options at any given time.

"How would I describe it? The do-nothing coach," he said with a laugh.

Prior to his last two seasons with the Blue Jays, Gibbons had been expecting his team to be a potent offensive force. That's what they've become in his absence. Coincidence? He thinks not.

"Sometimes, when things start to go down hill, you just need a new voice," said Gibbons. "In Cito you have a guy who has instant credibility. You know, we all say the same things but sometimes it's who is saying it that makes a difference.

"The game is all about winning and losing. That's how you're identified in this business. I've always felt that if you perform, you'll be rewarded. It just wasn't clicking. I've seen these (Blue Jays) do it before individually. Now they're doing it collectively and I'm pulling for them."

Gibbons is enjoying his place in the game right now. He likes Kansas City because it's a lot like, and a lot closer to, his own home in San Antonio. He can zip home for an off-day without it being too much of a bother. He also likes the makeup of this young Royals team that is poised to make some noise in the AL Central.

He's not rejecting the notion of managing again but he's not hyperventilating about it.

"These jobs are so hard to come by," he said. "You never know what's coming down the road. To be honest, I'm not worried with getting another chance to manage. If something new came along, I might throw my hat in the ring, but I'm not obsessed about managing."

He spent four years managing the Blue Jays and he admits he was a much better manager when he was fired than when he was hired. Seems a shame not to be able to use all that acquired knowledge.


Videos

Photos