Cito Gaston, right, is 24-17 since returning as Blue Jays manager on June 20. ((J.Meric/Associated Press))

If Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi has his way, Cito Gaston will be retained as manager next season.

"Cito is definitely going to be back," Ricciardi told reporters Thursday.

"That is great," Gaston said. "I would like to be a part of it."

Asked if he agreed with Ricciardi, Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey tempered his response amid growing uncertainty regarding the future of the GM, who hasn't reached the playoffs in seven years at the helm.    

"J.P. is entitled to make his comments," Godfrey said. "[But] I feel good about Cito."

Gaston, who skippered the Blue Jays to back-to-back World Series titles in 1992-93, returned June 20 to replace the fired John Gibbons as manager.

Toronto went 35-39 under Gibbons, but is 24-17 with Gaston in the dugout.

"He has done a good job," Ricciardi said. "We're six games over .500 since he took over."

Gaston, a soft-spoken 64-year-old, has restored a sense of calm to the clubhouse and, as a former hitting coach, tried to revitalize an anemic offence led by Matt Stairs's 11 home runs.

By comparison, Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox leads the American League with 20 homers.  

"We have got a long way to go, offensively," Ricciardi said. "But he has really laid the groundwork for some of the right stuff, offensively."

'Cito has created a great buzz'

Gaston's contractual status will likely be discussed at season's end.

"We will sit down at the right time," said Ricciardi, who is signed through 2010.

"We have an understanding we're going to talk at end of season," Godfrey said. "Cito has created a great buzz with the team, on and off the field — fans love him [and] I have not seen too many media guys taking shots at him.

"The players, obviously, love him. I'm pretty positive about things … I like what I have seen so far."

Gaston is 725-667 overall as manager of the Blue Jays, including four AL East Division titles, two AL pennants and, of course, those two World Series titles.

He is Toronto's first two-time manager, previously manning the dugout from 1989 to 1997, and the fourth-oldest in the major leagues.

With files from the Canadian Press