When the Toronto Blue Jays first announced the hiring of Charlie Montoyo as the team’s new manager, the words that defined him: Experienced. Overwhelmingly positive. Superior ability to connect.
Even though the words came from general manager Ross Atkins and president Mark Shapiro, the sentiment was echoed around baseball. “A tremendous choice for the Jays,” Keith Law tweeted. A handful of “baseball people” told Ben Nicholson-that that Montoyo is “a postive person, open-minded, with baseball feel.”
That baseball feel? It comes from Montoyo’s brief playing career and his extensive minor league managing experience with the Tampa Bay Rays, which spanned 18 seasons and six levels.
Montoyo was drafted in the 26th round in 1986 by the Milwaukee Brewers and played in their minor league system for six years before a trade to the Montreal Expos. He made the majors with the Expos, playing in four games and had two hits.
Montoyo played three more minor league seasons, for a total of 1,028 MiLB games, before retiring at the end of 1996.
In 1996, Montoyo, helped mentor Vladimir Guerrero Sr. as an unofficial player-coach. It was the start of his long road towards the Blue Jays managerial job.
“Approaching age 30 and coming off a campaign in which he produced just a .680 OPS, Montoyo had started to think about moving into the dugout full time,” Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com wrote. “The Expos offered him a job as an unofficial player-coach at an exciting time in the system. He accepted but played most of the season at Double-A.”
In 1997, the Rays took on Montoyo as manager of their rookie-level team, the Princeton Devil Rays. Over the next 17 years, he managed the Hudson Valley Renegades, Charleston RiverDogs, Bakersfield Blaze, Orlando Rays, Montgomery Biscuits and Durham Bulls, Tampa Bay’s triple-A affiliate.
In Durham, in seven seasons, he only posted a losing record once and helped the Bulls win two International League championships. He won Manager of the Year Award twice.
“Obviously, the success we had on the field was important, but Charlie’s impact transcended wins and losses,” Bulls general manager Mike Birling said after Toronto’s announcement. “He is a part of our Bulls family and we are so proud today.” Montoyo is now one of five former Bulls managing in the majors.
In 2015, the Rays added Montoyo to their major league team as a third base coach, and he remained in that position until 2018, when Tampa Bay promoted him to bench coach.
Montoyo has interviewed for MLB jobs before. In 2014, he lost out to Kevin Cash to replace Joe Maddon as manager of the Rays, and during the 2015 offseason, the Seattle Mariners interviewed Montoyo for their open position.
Montoyo has many of the qualities the Jays were looking for. Montoyo is fluent in both English and Spanish. Coming from the Rays, he’s reputed to be an analytic, outside-of-the-box thinker, and his success with the Rays indicates that he works well with a data-driven front office.
Atkins also looked for “communication to keep not just 25-man roster, but also the 40-man roster, the 200 minor-league players, the 100-plus scouts, the 100-plus coaches and medical staff people pulling in one direction and feeling connected.”
“We are thrilled to announce Charlie as the new manager of the Toronto Blue Jays,” Atkins said. “Charlie is a highly regarded leader by so many individuals in the game and we were thoroughly impressed by his experiences and approach as we learned more about him . . . Charlie is passionate about the game, with a superior ability to connect and relate.”
Said Cash, the Rays manager: “[Montoyo and Rocco Baldelli, hired by the Minnesota Twins] build solid relationships with players, understand how to earn their trust and have impacted many players’ careers for the better.”
The telling quote about Montoyo, however, comes from Shapiro: “Charlie possesses the warmth, authenticity, and extensive experience that will help foster a championship culture in our clubhouse.”
Some notes from Tom from Charlie’s press conference:
- It’s the first press conference in the post-Jay Stenhouse era. There was a few hiccups in the introduction part.
- Charlie seemed a bit nervous at the start, and tried to button up his new uniform (and failed) a couple of times before giving up. He’s number 25, at least for now.
- He said his team will “play the game the right ways”. I bet this line has been used at every manager introduction press conference.
- He considers himself a blend of new and old school. I like that. Course I’d consider myself the same.
- Asked about how to rise through the minors he said ‘think of your job at hand, don’t start thinking about the next step’. Good advice.
- ‘I didn’t even want to tell my parents before it was official, in case they changed their minds’. I would be the same way. Don’t jinx it.
- There was a stupid question about ‘How are you going to deal with all the losing?’. Charlie seemed irritated by the question and answered it correctly by saying he intends to win. Apparently it was Rosie DiManno that asked that.
- Charlie said that Toronto was his favorite city to come to when he was with the Rays. And that he loves Canada. I really liked that.
- Asked about the coaching staff, he said that will be his first step, finding who he wants to coach with him.
The Rays made this video about Charlie.