Vancouver Canadians manager Dallas McPherson comes to the Toronto Blue Jays organization after playing part of five seasons in the majors.
Vancouver Canadians manager Dallas McPherson spoke to the assembled media during the team’s annual Media Day at Nat Bailey Stadium.
The former Anaheim Angels, Florida Marlins and Chicago White Sox third baseman outlined what the 2018 C’s need to do to be successful.
“Definitely with the group that we have, small ball and being able to execute and situational hitting is going to be key for us.”
McPherson says maintaining a cohesive unit with the amount of roster turnover that takes place during the season is one obstacle that has to be dealt with.
“It’s always a challenge. I think the biggest challenge is being able to keep the team chemistry where you want it in the group together. The players jelling together, in and out, the locker room chemistry, I think, is always going to be the biggest challenge with that.
Obviously on the field, being able to figure out who can do what in our short time together. That is always going to be a big challenge.”
Randy Pondler (left) is expected to be the C’s Opening Day starter in 2018. Outfielder McGregory Contreras is on the right.
The probable starter for Opening Day in Eugene June 15 is expected to be Randy Pondler.
“I think it’s Pondler. Strike thrower, professional, knows how to pitch. Keeps guys off balance. Puts fly balls in play and let our defence work for us.”
McPherson believes the C’s will have to do the little things to be successful this season.
“I think we’re a team that, you know, we’re not going to overpower people with a lot of power. We got some guys from the draft that’s got some but offensively, we’re going to have to execute and play a little bit of small ball. We’re going to run the bases really well and aggressive. I think we’re like most good teams, we’re going to have to rely on our pitching and good defence.”
McPherson was asked if he was familiar with any of the ballparks in the Northwest League.
“Not at all. I played in the Pioneer League when I was coming through so a lot of this is going to be new for me. I know on the road, we got a lot of turf fields and things change a little bit with the speed of the game there. We’re all just kind of getting our feet wet a little bit in this first half and then make some adjustments as we go.”
The huge crowds at Nat Bailey Stadium are something McPherson believes will be a great benefit to this players.
“It’s going to be huge. I mean, the great thing about an atmosphere like that, you don’t have to do a lot to get them ready to play. That’s going to motivate them in and of itself. Such a special thing playing in this type of environment, especially at such a lower level and a young age for these guys. It’s going to be huge for them.”
McPherson talked about why he decided to join the Toronto Blue Jays.
“A lot of it was just the organization as a whole and what they were trying to do with player development and the direction they were going. Team chemistry and win-first mentality a little bit. I think that (were) probably the biggest things.”
The return of Jim Czajkowski as pitching and the addition of hitting coach Aaron Matthews will create a good dynamic among the coaching staff according to McPherson.
“It’s great. It’s going to be great. We’re all dealing really well together. I love having Cy. You know the experience there is going to be huge for us all and Aaron being similar ages, very similar kind of mindset and thought process on the offensive side of the ball. It’s just going to play well for us.”
McPherson was asked about how he will manage the transition from player to manager.
“Obviously I don’t know yet to be honest with you. (Laughs). We’re going to have to play it a little bit (by ear). I think it’s going to be obviously a huge step just learning the day-to-day operations and the management side of things behind the scenes.
I think on the field, you know, baseball is baseball. Whether you’re playing it or managing it, it’s obviously different roles but the game’s still the game, you know. Being able to go out and execute and do the things we want to do, that’s all going to take care of itself.”
McPherson likes the composition of this year’s roster that features some returnees to lead the newcomers.
“Luckily we’ve been together here for a while down in extended so we’ve gotten to know each other a good bit and who can do what. They’re comfortable together with me as well. Yeah, we’ve got some guys that are returning. Some guys that (weren’t) here last year. I think it’s a good mix of guys and a good mix of speed, a good mix of power, a good mix of defence and offence. I think it’s all going to go well.”
As defending champs, McPherson says the C’s will be hunted instead of the hunter in the Northwest League.
“Yeah, you know we’ve told these guys a lot about that. I mean, it’s great to win. It’s great to win championships but when you do, you got a target on your back a little bit. I think not only Eugene but the rest of the league is going to be out for us and we’ve talked to these guys about being ready to go from pitch one.”
Getting the team on the same page was a big goal of McPherson’s during extended spring training.
“I think, number one, you’re trying to get the team chemistry where you want it and trying to get the comfort level with both the staff and the players as well but also just trying implement our system and find out who can do what and how we can build and manage to the personnel.”
McPherson will make his managerial debut this Friday when the C’s visit the Eugene Emeralds for a five-game series. All games start at 7:05 pm except for Sunday with the first pitch set for 5:05 pm. All games can be heard on CanadiansBaseball.com with Rob Fai and Friday’s opener will also be carried on TSN 1040 Radio in Vancouver. The games are also on MiLB.com TV.
2018 Vancouver Canadians Roster
#23. Dallas McPherson – manager
#48. Jim Czajkowski – pitching coach
#11. Aaron Matthews – hitting coach
#12. Jose Mayorga – position coach
Dalton Rodriguez (left) and Jose Espada are among five returnees to the C’s pitching staff in 2018.
#14. Jose Espada
#15. Jordan Barrett
#18. Orlando Pascual
#20. Josh Winckowski
#22. Denis Diaz
#25. Justin Watts
#29. Marcus Reyes
#34. Dalton Rodriguez
#37. Juan Nunez
#41. Connor Law
#43. Elio Silva
#44. Randy Pondler
There are two Canadian Canadians on the 2018 roster in outfielder Tanner Kirwer (Sherwood Park, Alberta – pictured left) and catcher Owen Spiwak (Mississauga, Ontario).
#9. Owen Spiwak
#26. Reilly Johnson
#2. Sterling Guzman
#17. Jesus Navarro
#21. Bryan Lizardo
#4. Brandon Polizzi
#5. Freddy Rodriguez
#19. Tanner Kirwer
#28. McGregory Contreras
The eight returnees from the 2017 roster are Espada, Pascual, Reyes, Nunez and Rodriguez on the pitching side and Spiwak, Lizardo and Polizzi on the position player side. 2016 C’s pitcher Denis Diaz is also on the 2018 roster.
Please tune in to TSN 1040 for Vancouver Canadians Game Day every Thursday night from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Hosted by Rob Fai, the show is in its 10th season and has undergone a new format with a roundtable featuring season one co-host Lou Filippo, author K.P. Wee and myself. We talk about the Toronto Blue Jays, the Seattle Mariners and all things baseball in an action-packed two hours. Just click here to listen to all the shows or click on the Booster Juice logo located near the top right-hand corner of this very blog.
Congratulations to the Lansing Lugnuts for clinching a Midwest League playoff spot. 14 pitchers and 12 position players with C’s ties all played a role in helping the Lugnuts nail down a first-half Eastern Division playoff berth. 2017 C’s righthander Colton Laws got the win with five shutout innings. Samad Taylor was 3-for-4 with two RBI while Norberto Obeso and Yeltsin Gudino drove in the other runs in a 4-2 victory over the host Fort Wayne TinCaps.
And for icing on the cake, Lugnuts home games and the All-Star game at Cooley Law School Stadium will be shown on MiLB TV.