Blue Jays interim skipper Schneider getting settled in to new role

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TORONTO — The home manager's office had that just-moved-in feel Thursday as John Schneider held court with reporters in the room for the first time since being named interim skipper of the Toronto Blue Jays a day earlier.

His desk was mostly clear, save for a couple laptops and a few pens. Two pieces of his sons' artwork hung by the nameplate at his locker stall.

"I've got to get some pictures up here too," Schneider said with a smile as he leaned back in his chair, hands in the pockets of his warmup shirt.

The bongos, record collection and personal effects from predecessor Charlie Montoyo had been packed up and taken away after his 3 1/2-season run in the position ended Wednesday.

A black couch taken out shortly after the John Gibbons' managerial era ended had returned. As media members filed in for the usual pre-game chat, someone mentioned Gibbons used to have a fridge in the corner.

"I'm working on a kegger here," Schneider joked before letting out a big laugh.

The 42-year-old native of Princeton, N.J., seemed quite comfortable in his new work digs as he engaged in friendly banter with the assembled scribes and chimed in on a variety of subjects over the 10-minute session.

Schneider said he treated himself to a celebratory beer with his colleagues after an 8-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies a night earlier. He kept the lineup card as a souvenir and plans to get it framed.

It was a nice start to a new position on a long journey with the organization that began in 2002 when he was drafted in the 13th round.

He moved into a minor-league coaching role in 2008 and later managed at a variety of levels, most recently in 2018 when he led Double-A New Hampshire to an Eastern League title.

Schneider joined the big-league coaching staff later that year and was promoted to bench coach this season. His task now is to guide a team currently on the wild-card bubble to the post-season.

"Waking up (Thursday) my wife said, 'So is this real? This is real, right?' I said, 'Yeah, this is real,'" Schneider told reporters. "The only difference is this kind of stuff. I'm going to spend a lot of time with the coaches and a lot of time in the clubhouse.

"It's just a little bit different and a lot of it cool at the same time."

Pre-game media sitdowns with the manager have run the gamut in Toronto in recent years. Montoyo was friendly, always positive and offered little -- if any -- quotable material.

Gibbons seemed to enjoy the interaction, firing regular quips in with a smile while working his chewing tobacco spittoon. John Farrell was always rigid and treated the exercise like work.

Schneider, with 821 games managed in the minor leagues, knows it's all part of the drill for a position he's thrilled to tackle at the big-league level.

"I think it's easy to get back into," he said of managerial duties. "I'm sure there's some things that I did in the past that I'll probably pick up on, some nervous habits or something that I do.

"But it's pretty easy to get ready and flip the switch back on."

The Blue Jays seemed more aggressive on the basepaths under Schneider against the Phillies.

The new skipper tinkered with the batting order for the series opener against Kansas City on Thursday night, moving Bo Bichette into the cleanup spot behind leadoff man George Springer and sluggers Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Alejandro Kirk.

"You get George and Vlad and Kirky in a row (with) on-base and damage potential," he said. "I think it's a good setup for Bo. The more we can get Bo up with guys on base, the better off we are.

"So we're seeing how it rolls but I'm comfortable and happy that everyone is happy with it."

Also Thursday, Casey Candaele joined the team to begin his new role as interim bench coach after being promoted from Triple-A manager.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2022.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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