Vlad Jr. diplomatic in discussing MLB time frame

Blue Jays' manager, teammates in awe of top prospect's maturity

February 18th, 2019

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- With each passing day, the hype continues to grow around Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but MLB Pipeline's top-ranked prospect seems to be keeping a pretty level head throughout all the chaos.

Guerrero talked to the media for the first time this spring on Monday morning and brushed aside any talk about expecting to make the Major League roster out of camp. He might still be a teenager, but at least in his public comments the phenom seems mature well beyond his years.

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With fans and even some members of the media seemingly upset that Guerrero is not expected to head to Toronto at the end of Spring Training, he was provided with plenty of opportunities to criticize the organization for its approach. Time and time again Monday, Guerrero declined to take that stance.

"I know that I need to focus on controlling what I can control, and working hard every day to make the best out of it," Guerrero said through an interpreter. "Trying to get better every day, really working hard and giving the best of me."

Trying to find a specific player at the Bobby Mattick Training Center in Dunedin usually turns into a game of "Where's Waldo." With more than 60 players spread across four diamonds, it can often be difficult to keep track of who is playing where at any given time. Not so much with Guerrero, who draws a huge crowd wherever he goes.

A crew of photographers follows his every step. Stretching, fielding, hitting, it doesn't matter -- the mandate is to get visuals for someone who has already become one of the most popular players in the game, and arguably Toronto's biggest star, before even making his official debut. Reporters task themselves with tracking each pitch in batting practice, each swipe of the glove in the field.

The whole scene can be a little bit overwhelming, even to outside observers. Only Guerrero knows what it's like to walk in his shoes, amid all of the expectations that go along with it, but so far he seems to be doing a pretty good job of carrying that extra pressure around.

"When I'm here on the field and in the clubhouse, I'm a baseball player," Guerrero said. "Outside, when I'm at home, I'm just a person, a human being. I try to come here, give my best here, leave it here and then go back to being a person at home, just a regular guy."

The cool and calm demeanor that Guerrero has displayed in his first big league camp hasn't gone unnoticed by teammates and Toronto's coaching staff. Blue Jays shortstop was quick to point out that Guerrero is always one of the first to arrive at the ballpark every morning, and he praised his overall maturity. Countless others have done the same.

Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo simply shakes his head in wonder when asked about how Guerrero is dealing with all of the attention. Montoyo doesn't quite understand how Guerrero is able to handle it, but he remains blown away at the overall approach.

"I can't relate to being 19 years old and being as even-keel and cool as that kid is, I'm impressed to tell you the truth," Montoyo said. "That's the mark of a star. He's going to be a star someday, as we all know, and it's amazing that he can be like that, that comfortable for being 19 years old.

"I just told him, I just had a meeting with him and I told him, 'I can't relate to you. I'm impressed.' It can't be easy, all of the attention, being that young."