TORONTO - As the sun sets next week on John Farrell’s first season as manager of the Blue Jays, he plans to revisit the mission statement he put in place last spring.
“The message next Wednesday (after the final game in Chicago) is going to be a continuation of what we set out in spring training and a tone we tried to establish at that time,” said Farrell. “Our plan is to continue to work toward building a team that’s going to win a World Series.
“That hasn’t changed. The roster has changed. But our approach, our vision, and some of the challenges we know we’re going to face along the way and how we respond to those challenges, will be re-emphasized under the umbrella of wanting to be the best.”
THE BEST OF BRETT
Brett Lawrie’s season ended abruptly on Wednesday when he fractured the middle finger on his throwing hand during a fielding drill, but he has left a huge impression on the Jays, both players and staff.
“There’s a long list of things that he showed that are impressive,” said Farrell, of Lawrie.
“We saw his pitch recognition and his in-game decision-making; his first step quickness, his defensive ability to his glove side. In the spring, he was probably a little bit ahead when he went to his backhand than to his glove side. Now he ranges far to his left to cut balls off in front of the shortstop which goes to his explosiveness and overall athleticism.”
It took Frank Francisco a long time — too long, really — to find his groove this season. Presuming the closer is back next year, Farrell wants find a way to have Francisco hit his stride in a more timely fashion.
“The one thing we know is that the last two springs he was late getting started and he’s obviously a big, physical body. We may have to adjust his throwing program to start earlier but is more gradual building up.
“There’s enough history here to suggest that we might look to take a different approach than he’s done the last couple of years. There’s no doubt the way he’s throwing the ball right now, he’s been dominant when he’s been in the role of closing out games.”<