By J.P. Antonacci
Canadian Baseball Network
DeMarlo Hale wouldn’t bite when asked about his future with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“It was personal reasons. I won’t get into that,” the bench coach told the Canadian Baseball Network when asked about his decision last month not to join fellow coaches Pete Walker, Brook Jacoby, Tim Leiper, Luis Rivera and Dane Johnson in signing two-year deals that will see them remain with the club through 2019.
Hale instead opted to stick to his year-by-year approach to contract negotiations.
“It was personal reasons,” Hale repeated. “That’s between me and the club.”
It’s no secret Hale would like the chance to manage a major-league team. He has a glowing minor league managerial track record and has been interviewed for a half-dozen big-league managing jobs.
He was pressed into service as Toronto’s interim manager earlier this month when John Gibbons had to leave the team for a few days to tend to a personal matter. With Hale at the helm, the Blue Jays went 2-3, including a draining 19-inning loss to Boston at Fenway Park.
Hale said it wasn’t difficult to take over for the five games, since to be an effective bench coach he is in the habit of preparing for each game as though he were the manager.
“I prepare (to manage) the same way I do as a bench coach,” Hale said after Toronto’s 8-2 win over Detroit on Sunday.
As bench coach, Hale explained, “I prepare for the possibility that Gibby might get thrown out, and when Gibby has questions and thoughts, I want (to have) answers. Kind of like insurance – just in case.”
Hale was mum about his own future, but he was happy to discuss the future of some of the Jays prospects who are turning heads with the big club. Sunday’s game saw outfielder Teoscar Hernandez hit two home runs and drive in five, with Luis Santos pitching three scoreless innings in relief of J.A. Happ’s winning start. Shortstop Richard Urena and reliever Carlos Ramirez have also looked sharp during their September auditions with Toronto.
“(As) young players, what you’re also doing (is) you’re leaving a very good impression coming into spring training. And you’re also seeing there’s the possibility for success at this level,” Hale said. “And the only way we’re going to find out is to go out there, play, and compete at a certain level. And right now they’re doing that.”
After the 19-inning loss in Boston, Hale told reporters he was pleased to see the effort his team showed throughout the long game. While the Blue Jays aren’t in the playoff hunt, Hale wants to see players exhibit that same level of effort every day for the remainder of the season.
“When you play at this level you’re playing in a 162-game season. Your intention every year is playoffs and a championship, so that’s another 11 games,” he said.
“I just think it’s important that that mindset is established for young players in particular. The veterans, they’ve been through it, they know how to manoeuvre their way, and it shows. A lot of times, you don’t have to remind them. Making that comment, it was for all players, but especially the young players.”