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Author Topic: SARASOTA, Florida On a pristine, cloudless Saturday morning before his Blue Ja  (Read 3 times)

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SARASOTA, Florida On a pristine, cloudless Saturday morning before his Blue Jays took to the field to play the Orioles, manager John Gibbons assumed his familiar perch behind home plate to watch his charges take batting practice. Diamondbacks Matt Koch Jersey . That time around, the cage is as much a part of baseballs daily routine as a beer and a hotdog is to a fan in the stands. Coaches, scouts, broadcasters and other media hover, tossing verbal barbs, telling stories and sharing laughs. Occasionally, especially in spring when the atmosphere is relatively laid back, the list of invited guests expands and on this day, Gibbons welcomed two men strongly influential in his life. To his left stood his high school baseball coach, Syl Perez and on his right, Frank Arnold, Gibbons high school football coach. The two are spending these early days of camp with the man they mentored. Its a chance for the men to catch up, reminisce about old times, and for Gibbons to share his pro experience with two people whove helped him along the way. "Your high school years are very big years in forming who youre going to be," Gibbons told TSN.ca. "When youre in athletics, if you get the right guys, it can steer you the right direction, teach you discipline, the work ethic and all the right stuff that benefit you in life." Arnold, 72, is a legend in Texas high school football, a state where "football is king," as Gibbons likes to remind the uninitiated. Gibbons played but didnt start at MacArthur High School in San Antonio. He was a running back, although in hindsight, Arnold thinks Gibbons was better suited to play linebacker because he was athletically inclined and had good instincts. Arnold also took notice, almost immediately, of Gibbons upbringing, especially his supportive parents, William and Sally. "Great kid, great family, never had, you know you have some parents who are a little overbearing, his parents were right there to support him," said Arnold. He had a knack for baseball, although Gibbons admits he was a late bloomer, especially offensively. A senior catcher graduated after Gibbons sophomore season, a year in which Gibbons played the outfield, and Perez had someone else pegged as the teams next catcher. Gibbons was still an unknown commodity. The coaching staff tried him at third base. It wasnt the right fit. "I dont care where I put John Gibbons, he was a catcher," said Perez. "I mean, it was in his DNA. He carries himself like a catcher." Perez had Gibbons and the would-be catching successor get behind the plate and simulate throwing out base stealers. "I timed him," said Perez. "From the time the sound hit the mitt to the time it hit the shortstop or second baseman at the bag. The other young man was very accurate but John was kind of like a Nolan Ryan. He was not very accurate, or not as accurate, but he would only average two seconds and sometimes slightly less than that. The other kid was 2.3, 2.4." Funny thing, Gibbons ended up catching that year. The other kid played third base. Both were all district at the end of the season, Gibbons in spite of a batting average below .200. He was that good defensively. His game rounded into form in his senior year, thanks to a scout named Buzzy Keller, who in advance of the baseball season, instructed Perez on a new hitting philosophy featuring a more compact swing. Perez coached up Gibbons and the results were immediate. "John batted .500 in 19 games and he hit 10 home runs," said Perez. "Its not that he hit 10 home runs, its how far he hit those 10 home runs that really got him to be a lot more noticed. A lot of our practices were very, very well attended and of course, he went 24th overall in the first round (1980) to the Mets." A series of injuries derailed Gibbons big league playing career, the nail in the coffin being the Mets acquisition of Gary Carter before the 1985 season. He stayed around the game, coached at various levels over a number of years, and by 2004, was into his first run as manager of the Blue Jays. "Hes old school and the old school way of thinking is, good catchers become good managers," said Perez. "Theyre the only ones looking the other way at the entire defence. Lets face it, he may have been not a starter in his major league life but when hes in the bullpen catching and working with folks like the Dwight Goodens and such, Im sure hes going to learn some things." Gibbons credits Arnold and Perez with teaching him some of the tactics he employs to this day. "You get to this level, its a little different," said Gibbons. "Guys are very successful when they get to this level so theyve got a good idea of what they do. Theres not as much coaching, teaching and things like that and you give these guys a little more leeway because theyre adults. But theres a lot of the same principles that work. I dont care if youre in high school or big league baseball, you have to have discipline. You still have to play the right way." Gibbons fair, jovial but stern-when-he-needs-to-be personality endears him to those who know him best and have known him the longest. "Personally, I think he has the demeanour, the ability to work with people," said Arnold. "I hope he gets lucky this year because last year they had some bad luck, in my opinion, with injuries and other things. I follow him, I watch him all the time and Im very proud to say that I was around him." Arnold continued, "John is going to be the same on the docks with some dock workers as he is at some high class place with the boss. I just think hes a quality person. Hes not flashy, he is what he is but hes always good to people." Coming off a disappointing 74-88 season, a startling and uncomfortable thud after the offseason hype of a year ago, Gibbons knows there is pressure to rebound. His mentors know it, too. "Nobody wants you unless you win," said Arnold. "I dont care what level, what league so I wish him well and hope he has some great luck this year. I hope some of the guys have some great years because I think he deserves it." Gibbons is aware the fan base is angst-ridden, unsure of whether the Blue Jays can compete in the ultra-tough American League East. He knows about the Twitter faction thats popularized the "FireGibby" hashtag, understands and accepts its a fans right to be upset, but wants to be clear about something he says wont change, win or lose. "I want people to know that I care about Toronto, I care about Canada, and nobody wants to win for the fan base more than I do because I know they deserve it." Diamondbacks Ketel Marte Jersey . Top-seeded Djokovic, who is making only his second appearance this year after reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, was a 6-3, 6-3 winner over 54th-ranked Istomin of Uzbekistan. "It wasnt as easy as the scoreline indicates," said Djokovic, who has won in Dubai on four occasions. Diamondbacks Socrates Brito Jersey . Crawford hit his slam off Pirates starter Edinson Volquez to give San Francisco a four run lead in the fourth and they never looked back. Brandon Belt had three runs batted in as well. Bumgarner pitched all nine innings and allowed just four hits. http://www.cheapdiamondbacksjerseysauthentic.com/?tag=diamondbacks-eduardo-escobar-jersey . Having won the first leg 1-0 in Barcelona, Madrid entered the match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium already in control and quickly sealed its place in the semifinals when Jese Rodriguez scored in the seventh minute.BOSTON -- Alex Ovechkin looks as if hes ready to carry the Washington Capitals to one of the Eastern Conferences final playoff spots. Coming off a strong game two days earlier, Ovechkin collected his 800th career point and raised his league-leading total to 43 goals with a pair of power-play scores, leading the Capitals to a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon. "I think were just playing more solid right now," said Ovechkin, who became the 150th player to collect 800 points. "We dont have time to make mistakes. Every point right now is very important for us." Joel Ward and Eric Fehr also scored, and Braden Holtby made 36 saves for the Capitals, who won their fourth straight in their push for the playoffs. "I think we were missing our swagger a little bit," Ward said of his teams play before the Olympic break. "When our team plays with a little bit of cockiness we seem to get wins. We were missing that before the break. Were finding ways to win. The bottom line is were winning games." Ovechkin had the go-ahead goal and two assists in a 5-4 win at Florida on Thursday. Its his first season of 40-plus goals since collecting 40-plus in his first five seasons from 2005-06 to 2009-10. The Capitals star winger even impressed Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask with his second goal. "The second one it seemed like he was going short side and it just kind of knuckled in," Rask said, breaking into a slight smile to show how impressed he was with the shot. "I was trying to ask him and he was kind of shaking his shoulders. Its funny when you see those. He was kind of leaning into it. Its like impossible to go the other way and it goes the other way. Youre like, Come on, buddy." Washington, which hosts Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, remained one point behind the Flyers for the conferences eighth and final playoff spot. Patrice Bergeron and Shawn Thornton had Bostons goals. Rask stopped 27 shots in his first start since winning the bronze medal with Finland at the Sochi Olympics. It was just the Bruins second regulation loss in their past 13 games (8-2-3). The Bruins lost 5-4 in overtime at Buffalo on Wednesday. "Were getting caught cheating too much in the offensive side and its ending up in the back of the net," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Its something we need to fix because were giving up too many goals." Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was disappointed how his team started out. "For sure that wasnt our best game," he said. "We could have done a numberr of things differently and better. Diamondbacks Jake Lamb Jersey. We have to learn from games like this, especially against an opponent like this." The Capitals opened a 3-0 lead on second-period goals by Ovechkin and Ward. Similar to his first score of the game, Ovechkin one-timed a blistering shot over the right shoulder of Rask inside the far post from the left circle for his milestone point. Ward stole a puck near the blue line from defenceman Johnny Boychuk, broke in alone and shifted to his backhand before tucking a shot behind Rask for an unassisted score midway into the period. The Bruins cut it to 3-1 on Bergerons power-play goal 41 seconds later when he snapped off a shot from the slot that beat Holtby inside the left post. Thorntons centring pass was inadvertently tipped past Holtby by defenceman Mike Green as he was skating hard to the net battling for position with Bruins forward Gregory Campbell at 17:32. The goal was originally credited to Campbell, but changed early in the third. But the Capitals made it 4-2 when Fehr scored on a clean breakaway midway into the third. He poked the puck into an open area near centre ice from his own blue line, skated in on Rask and beat him between the pads. Holtby made a key pad save on Chris Kellys breakaway bid while his team was on a power play with 3:06 to play. Washington led 1-0 after one on Ovechkins first goal. He one-timed John Carlsons pass from the left circle inside the far post at 18:39. The Capitals held Boston to one shot on goal when they were short-handed for a full two minutes after Jay Beagle was called for holding and Tom Wilson high-sticking during the delayed penalty early in the first period. "That was a big kill for us," Holtby said. "I didnt know it was a 5-on-3 until I looked up on the faceoff. The guys made some big plays. I think one or two shots got through." NOTES: Capitals RW Martin Erat, who had to leave Thursdays game after injuring his left foot, tried to skate during pregame warmups but came off quickly and was not in the lineup. ... Washington C Mikhail Grabovski was also out after re-injuring his left ankle Thursday. ... It was the first of three meetings between the teams. ... Nicklas Backstrom collected an assist on Ovechkins first goal to pass Peter Bondra for seventh place on the clubs all-time list with 354 assists. ... It was the second game since the Olympic break for both teams. ... Boston faces the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night. ... Washingtons entered the game with the leagues second-best power play. 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