Blue Jays to install strict video-game policy

March 19th, 2019

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays intend to implement a strict policy surrounding the use of video games in the clubhouse before the start of the regular season.

Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo revealed on Monday morning that earlier this spring, some veteran players mentioned the amount of time people spent playing video games last year had become an issue. It's something they want to avoid in 2019.

Montoyo's plan is to set a specific time where players will have to stop playing video games and watching TV. The details still have to be worked out, but it's something Montoyo wanted to do after joining the Blue Jays, and the first-year manager was pleased the players brought it up first.

"We're going to play less, I know that," Montoyo said. "We have a rule. We already met with all of the players and there's not going to be that many people playing video games. That's our rule. That's not my rule, that's our clubhouse rule.

"We felt like there's a time where it has to stop, before 6 o'clock or whatever that time is that we decide. That's when everybody is going to stop playing games and get ready for the game."

The biggest culprit of excessive video game playing last year was veteran catcher Russell Martin, who always traveled with a specialty briefcase filled with his video-game supplies. His game of choice was "Fortnite," which has become increasingly popular around the Major Leagues and elsewhere.

It's worth noting that the height of Martin's video-game playing came at a time when he was barely being used by the club. Martin was relegated to the bench in the final month of the season and only made two appearances in September. In other words, he had more than enough spare time to play as many video games as he wanted. But the concern is that the habits could wear off on other players.

The constant presence of video games in the clubhouse at least became concerning enough that the group of players brought it up to Montoyo. The Blue Jays skipper has composed a leadership committee of approximately 10 people, and that group will continue to meet throughout the year to discuss all clubhouse issues.

"It's just something I've always thought about," Montoyo said. "But it came up with the players, when I met with 10 of our players about rules and stuff, that one came up. We're going to decide the time. They raised it. So I didn't have to. Some guys said [there was too much], but I wasn't here last year. I thought it was a good idea to have a time where it stops."

Fast start for Grichuk

Blue Jays right fielder hasn't received a lot of playing time this spring, but you wouldn't be able to tell based on how he has looked at the plate early on.

Grichuk hit a leadoff homer during Sunday's game against the Twins. He is now batting .313 with two home runs, four RBIs and four walks in 16 at-bats. That is nearly half as many at-bats as other regular position players on the projected 25-man roster have thus far this spring.

The reason behind the lack of reps for Grichuk can be traced back to his delayed start to camp. Toronto took a cautious approach after Grichuk dealt with plantar fasciitis last year, and the club wanted to make sure there was not a recurrence before the end of camp.

"I feel great about it right now," Montoyo said Monday morning. "Spring Training is all about what you need. Some guys need 40 at-bats, some guys might need 60, some guys might need 30. He looks locked into the plate right now, so I feel good about that. I talk to him all the time and if he needs more at-bats, he might go to a Minor League game and get five at-bats and stuff like that. We're playing like that."

Up next

Right-hander Sean Reid-Foley was to take the mound when the Blue Jays visited Fort Myers for a game against the Red Sox on Tuesday, but the game was canceled due to a forecast of prolonged rain. Reid-Foley has made four appearances this spring, including three starts, and he has allowed seven runs on six hits over 11 innings.