“Last year it was the trailer. What you will see this year is the movie!”
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This phrase uttered by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. during training camp sets the tone for the Blue Jays’ new season, which should kick off this Friday in Toronto, against the Texas Rangers.
Shelved script about manager Charlie Montoyo gives hope for a happy ending. An American League East title? A presence in the World Series?
Unlike 2021, when the Blue Jays totaled 91 wins, the team likely won’t have to play its home games in three different cities — Dunedin, Buffalo and Toronto — due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regardless, Guerrero Jr., now 23, will have plenty to do to repeat last season’s feats. He then had hit 48 home runs, driven in 111 runs and crossed the plate 123 times. “Junior,” with a .311 batting average, finished second on the American’s MVP ballot behind Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels.
Berríos on the mound
For the first chapter of the film, it is José Berríos who will be on the mound for the Blue Jays this Friday night against the Rangers.
“I am so happy, I am happy to have the opportunity to pitch in our first game, Berríos reacted, quoted on the Major League Baseball website upon receiving the good news. It’s like when you’re young and it’s the first day of school. They are the same emotions. I’m very excited.”
Berrios, 27, had been acquired by the Blue Jays last season, making 12 starts for his new team. During the offseason, the former Minnesota Twins signed a seven-year, $131 million contract extension with Toronto.
“People in Toronto are excited for this season,” said Berríos, whose opposite will be Jon Gray. It’s good to have a lot of people in the stands, we play for the people and for the city. We also play for our families. It’s a great motivation.”
Among the Rangers players, Marcus Semien will return to Toronto. Last season, he contributed greatly to the success of the Toronto team with 45 long balls and 102 RBIs.
Without fanfare, it was he who had also taken third place, behind Ohtani and Guerrero Jr., for the title of most valuable player in the American League.
– Following a three-game series in Toronto against the Rangers, the Blue Jays will travel to New York to face the Yankees four times next week, Monday through Thursday. It will already be a first great battle for the title of the Eastern section.