Blue Jays faith allowed Teoscar Hernandez to unleash his star power


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A smile, big personality and explosive raw talent have always been the defining characteristics of Teoscar Hernandez.

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But until he had the opportunity to flourish as a Blue Jay, a lack of confidence held back the veteran outfielder.

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Hernandez acknowledged that, while praising the Jays for nurturing his development over a span of more than five seasons that ended when he was dealt to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.

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« I’m definitely a different player, » Hernandez said when asked to describe how his tenure with the Jays changed his career trajectory. « Now my mentality is different. Now I believe in myself.

« When I came into this organization in 2017, I was just trying to prove myself. I was trying too hard and things weren’t going the way I wanted. But the opportunity they gave me and the confidence that they gave me to show all that I have, fortunately, allowed me to do it.

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From managers John Gibbons, Charlie Montoyo and more recently John Schneider, and coaches such as Mark Budzinski (who worked diligently with him to develop his defensive skills), Hernandez finally shone in Toronto.

« It comes with opportunity and confidence, when you get the confidence from the manager and the coaching staff, » Hernandez said. « When you’re afraid of making mistakes, things aren’t going to go your way.

« As soon as I got the trust of the manager and the coaching staff and everyone in the organization, that’s when everything started to change. I started doing better and better and to believe in myself and to know that I had a lot of talent to be a player in the big leagues.

This talent has made Hernandez one of the most dangerous hitters in the American League, a two-time Silver Slugger winner, a unique star player and a player who is expected to earn more than US$14 million in officiating dollars this season.

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And his run in Toronto, where he arrived in a 2017 deal that sent pitcher Francisco Liriano to the Astros, has been steady and impressive. In his last three seasons, Hernandez’s 227 RBI was third among major league outfielders, behind only Aaron Judge of the Yankees and Kyle Tucker of the Astros. His 250 extra hits over the past five seasons ranked him eighth among all MLB outfielders.

While Hernandez will no doubt regret leaving the team that showcased his abilities – and one in which he was a key presence in the clubhouse and the dugout – he said he was delighted to join. another thriving team in Seattle.

« I could see the same thing happening in Toronto, » Hernandez said of his sightings of the Mariners during their two-game sweep against the Jays in October. “They have a very close group of guys who are special. I got to see what they did on the baseball field this year when they beat us wild.

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« I will enjoy every moment. »

Although he may miss Toronto and its relationship with players such as Vlad Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and others, Hernandez was not surprised to be treated. Social media posts and the MLB Network duly informed him of the possibilities.

And it turns out the Mariners had some interest in bringing in the 30-year-old Dominican.

« He’s someone we’ve talked to the Blue Jays for the past two years, including at training last spring, » Mariners general manager Justin Hollander said. “We exchanged concepts on how it could work for both teams and ultimately we didn’t in the spring of last year.

« But he’s someone we’ve always looked up to. »

Blue Jays fans felt the same way, of course, a factor not lost on the likeable Hernandez.

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« I had a lot of fun with this team, » Hernandez said. “They have a talented group and it was exciting to play with. I learned a lot from them and they learned a lot from me. It was just a special group. They play with passion and they love the game. They played hard every day.

« For me, it’s like a new chapter. I think I’m going to enjoy it and give everything I have to the Mariners and the fans. What I see with this team being able to do is pretty impressive.

Always optimistic, a confidence that stemmed from a decisive mandate for his career north of the border.


Hernandez’s return won’t be fully measured until we learn what Jays general manager Ross Atkins is capable of doing with the money he saved treating his star outfielder.

But in right-handed reliever Erik Swanson, the Jays get an immediate upgrade to their bullpen.

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Mariners GM Hollander with an interesting assessment on Swanson (who will be joined in the Jays organization by prospect Adam Macko):

“He always did a great job of locating a four-seam fastball and I think a big splitter for Erik this year was to come up with a secondary court (a splitter) that he felt really comfortable with.

« He can get left-handed and right-handed pitchers out and he’s comfortable late in games. From a clubhouse perspective, it’s enjoyed by all. He has always been a strike thrower. His split finger this year really changed his world and took it to another level.

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