There was a baseball game played at the former Sky Dome last night — the Blue Jays lost to the Rangers, 5-4, as it turns out — but there’s a little more interest in the heavy shit that went down earlier. From the Toronto Star’s Geoff Baker.
A furious Shea Hillenbrand lashed out at Blue Jays manager John Gibbons on Wednesday night after the team designated him for assignment.
Hillenbrand packed his bags during the game and headed back to his Toronto home a few hours after a bizarre series of events that saw the designated hitter criticize the team’s management. A clubhouse incident before batting practice, that Hillenbrand said was œmeant to be humourous and fun for teammates and involved other players besides him, led to Gibbons ripping him in a closed-door clubhouse meeting afterwards.
Hillenbrand said Gibbons “reamed him out” in front of teammates during Wednesday’s closed-door meeting and called it an “unprofessional act” by a manager he had a longstanding personality conflict with.
Earlier in the day, Hillenbrand had been furious to learn he was not in the lineup for Wednesday night’s game. He had rushed back from Los Angeles on Tuesday to rejoin the team after he and his wife, Jessica, adopted a newborn girl.
Hillenbrand had expected to play Tuesday as well , saying the team knew he’d be arriving just before game time, but was on the bench as Toronto’s offence was shutout for the final eight innings of a 5-2 loss.
“I was very surprised,” Hillenbrand said during batting practice on Wednesday when asked about again not being in the lineup. “They knew I was going to be here. I should have just stayed home.”
As other reporters began approaching to hear what he was saying, Hillenbrand went on to rip management for having a “what have you done for me lately?” attitude towards players. He said players lack confidence in team management’s ability to make it a better club and implied it’s why the Jays are still third in the division
“I love my teammates, but I’m just waiting to get traded . . . they should have traded me two months ago.”
Gibbons told reporters before the game that Hillenbrand was out of the lineup because he’d been inactive since playing last Friday night. Hillenbrand got on a plane for Los Angeles after the game to finalize the adoption of the newborn girl, who has been named Dakota Grace.
“He’s been out four games,” Gibbons said. “He needs to work in the field a bit.”
Hillenbrand is also upset that no one from the team’s front office has talked to him since he got back.
“Not one person from the front office has even come up to congratulate me,” he said. “It’s all the (other) people like you (media) guys. But nobody from higher up. That’s a disgrace.”
The Globe & Mail’s Larry Milson reported “one source said Hillenbrand had written something on the clubhouse bulletin board that was considered detrimental to the organization. Hillenbrand also apparently damaged his Canada Day uniform on July 1 after he was removed from the game at the Rogers Centre.”