Former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Joe Carter knows a thing or two about high expectations.
Big things were expected the year after Toronto’s first World Series title in 1992. The Blue Jays rose to the occasion again in 1993, with Carter again anchoring the team and sealing the series victory with a walk-off homer in Game 6 of the Fall Classic.
The baseball buzz is back in the Ontario capital this year after a busy off-season marked by some stunning trades and big spending. Toronto’s roster looks much stronger and the Blue Jays appear primed to make a move in the American League East.
Carter’s advice for the 2013 edition of the team? Don’t get caught up in the hype.
“When you have new guys come in — as many as the Jays have coming in now — the tendency is to go out there and try to do too much, too early,” Carter told The Canadian Press.
“And then when you do that, you put yourself in a hole. What they’ve got to do is just go out there and try to relax as much as possible and trust their teammates and believe in their teammates and not try to do it themselves.”
Toronto’s starting rotation is much deeper this season. General manager Alex Anthopoulos landed Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle in an off-season megatrade with Miami and then added R.A. Dickey in a deal with the New York Mets.
Dickey, who won the National League Cy Young Award last year, will get the start Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians at Rogers Centre.
Toronto finished fourth in the American League East last season with a 73-89 record. Manager John Gibbons was re-hired in the off-season and he’ll try to guide the Blue Jays to the post-season for the first time in two decades.
All-star shortstop Jose Reyes, another key part of the Miami deal, gives Toronto a true leadoff man and blazing speed on the basepaths.
Slugger Jose Bautista is healthy again after missing several weeks with a wrist problem last year. Edwin Encarnacion is coming off a breakout season and gives the Blue Jays some pop in the heart of the batting order.
Toronto also signed outfielder Melky Cabrera and infielder Maicer Izturis in the off-season.
Carter thinks Toronto’s chances of success will be greater if the players can focus on team dynamics rather than individual results.
“They’ve got to get that chemistry together, put their trust in one another and have fun playing the game,” Carter said.
The Blue Jays opened their wallet over the winter. Toronto’s salary commitment is over US$122 million, well up from $83.7 million at the start of last year.
This will be Toronto’s 37th season of play. The team has posted a 19-17 record on Opening Day.
The Blue Jays opened the 2012 season with a 7-4, 16-inning win over the Indians at Progressive Field.
Third baseman Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., will open the season on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain. Toronto has eight relievers on the 25-man roster and will likely send one of those pitchers down when Lawrie returns.