TORONTO -- Ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Orioles at Rogers Centre, Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. wanted to set the record straight.
The 20-year-old slugger felt that comments he made that were shared by Sportsnet's Arash Madani on Sunday -- "I've never worked out at the gym before; I've never lifted weights before" -- were misinterpreted.
“I just want to clarify what was said the other day,” Guerrero said through team interpreter Hector Lebron. “It was written the wrong way. What I’m trying to say is, in the offseason in the Dominican, I never lifted weights before, but for this season I’m going to have a plan with the team, with [head strength coach] Scotty Weberg and the whole strength and conditioning staff, and that’s going to start in the offseason [and continue] all the way through Spring Training.”
Guerrero wanted to make it clear that the comments in question were strictly about the work that he does in his native Dominican Republic during the offseason months, where he always continues baseball activities and other methods of conditioning, while not strictly lifting weights.
“They wrote that I never lifted weights before,” Guerrero said. “That sounds like 'before' -- never even in the Dominican, the States, with the team, and that wasn’t what I was saying. I was very clear, and I said that I never lifted weights in the offseason in Dominican Republic. I did a lot of other things, conditioning things, but weights at the gym, never did it before.”
Previously completing workouts that involved “a lot of flipping tires, those big tires, a lot of conditioning, a lot of running, throwing [and] hitting,” the rookie infielder intends to take a different approach to his offseason workouts this year, after getting a firsthand glimpse of what a full season in the big leagues can look like as well as the toll it can take on the body.
“I’m going to change the entire program, the plan, because I understand now after being here that you’ve got to maintain all the strength for me to play 162 games,” Guerrero said. “Right now, for example, I don’t feel 100 percent. I’m a little bit tired right now and based on that, I’m not going to change my routine that I did before -- I’m just going to add the weight program plan. I’m going to do all that to come back to Spring Training strong, with added strength, because I want to play 162 games.”
While the young hitter doesn’t have any specific goals for the gym through the offseason and is hoping to make improvements wherever possible, there is one thing he wants to accomplish sooner rather than later.
“I want to get to the point where everybody in the organization thinks that, 'Yes, he can go out there for 162 games,'” Guerrero said.
Guerrero understands that in order to achieve that goal, he also needs to make improvements on the field, and will strategize with the Blue Jays' training staff before the season ends in order to find ways to do that as well.
“I know I’ve made some errors and I need to get better with that,” Guerrero said. “I will sit with [third-base coach] Luis Rivera at the end of the season, we’re going to prepare a good plan. We haven’t done it yet, but we will at the end because definitely I want to keep getting better at third base, but I feel good about it so far.”
With two three-game series against the Orioles and Rays remaining on the schedule for the Blue Jays, Guerrero has posted a .276/.345/.444 slash line with 15 homers, 26 doubles, two triples and 68 RBIs over 119 contests in his rookie campaign, numbers he is proud of but also looking to improve upon.
“Overall, for me I consider that as being a good season,” Guerrero said. “For these six games left, I just want to keep working hard and give it what I’ve got for my team.”
• Lourdes Gurriel Jr. began the day on Monday in the No. 3 hole of the Blue Jays' lineup, but was scratched about an hour before first pitch due to an illness.
"Before the game, I took Gurriel out of the game because he had stomach pain,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “And it ended up being he’s going to have surgery and he’s going to be done for the year because he’s going to have to have his appendix removed. That happened right before the game.”