Getting Cito’s Blessing

By Jon Krawczynski
Updated: October 1, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS — Outgoing Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was asked what kind of qualities the organization should look for in his replacement.

He admitted to being somewhat stumped by the question, but said Don Baylor is a good place to start.

Gaston said Thursday he was pleased to hear Baylor will interview for the job and said he has passed the names of several other possible candidates to Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

“He does bring a present when he walks in a room. Not a birthday present, but a presence,” Gaston quipped before the Blue Jays began the final series of the season against the Twins. “I think it’d be good for him. Whether he gets it or not, I’m happy to hear they’re going to consider him and take a look at him.”

Gaston said he recommended Juan Samuel, who served as interim manager in Baltimore this season after Dave Trembley was fired, for an interview. He also has passed along the names of a handful of other people who reached out to him to express interest.

Just what kind of manager it will take to get the Blue Jays over the hump in the powerful AL East, Gaston doesn’t quite know.

“Really, I don’t know what sort of manager you need here,” he said. “I don’t know what kind of team is going to be here next year because there’s a lot of unanswered questions here. I don’t know. Are you looking to win next year or are you looking to win two years, three years from now?”

Baylor managed the Colorado Rockies from 1993 to 1998 and the Chicago Cubs from 2000 to 2002. Baylor, currently the Rockies’ hitting coach, declined comment after Colorado’s 6-1 loss at St. Louis on Thursday night.

“I think Don deserves an interview and another chance,” Gaston said. “Don was a good player. He’s a good coach also. He’s been a manager before.”

Gaston said he figured it would be good to get someone with managerial experience. But then again, “I didn’t have any experience,” he said of when he began his first stint as Blue Jays skipper in 1989. “I think it’s a real tough job to know who is the right guy.”

Gaston won two World Series titles, in 1992 and 1993, during a managerial run that ended in 1997. He returned to the club as a hitting coach from 2000-01 and took over as manager again in June 2008.

The Blue Jays honored Gaston, who is retiring, with an emotional pregame ceremony on Wednesday night in the home finale. After the Jays beat the Yankees, they showered Gaston with beer and water to celebrate an esteemed career.

He was the first black manager to win a World Series and entered Friday’s final series of his career with a record of 891-836.

NOTE: AP freelance writer Warren Mayes in St. Louis contributed to this story.