Colby Rasmus prefers to let his bat do the talking.
That much was painfully obvious at his introductory news conference in Toronto.
With the bill of his cap pulled down so low that you could barely see his eyes, the 24-year-old outfielder offered short, uninspired answers to reporters' questions, and his sombre tone belied his alleged euphoria at escaping Tony La Russa and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Fortunately, charisma isn't one of baseball's prestigious five tools and Blue Jays fans could care less if Rasmus is a good quote - or if his dad holds his hand between at-bats for that matter - as long as he helps lead the club back into contention. And with the 2005 first-rounder's talent and a fresh start north of the border, he's bound to do just that.
Unfortunately, patience is not a virtue of today's cyber-centric sports fans and a 0-for-12 start (including strikeouts) in his first three games led some to question manager John Farrell's decision to bat Rasmus second.
But the promising centre-fielder's two-hit performance - including a clutch, two-out, two-run double off of Texas lefty C.J. Wilson in the fourth inning on Sunday - temporarily silenced his critics. Some of his detractors resurfaced, however, after Tuesday night's 0-for-4 performance. But if Jays fans can cut the talented outfielder some slack early in his tenure with the club, they can expect to be rewarded in the future.
Already in his third big-league season, Rasmus is only 24 and still maturing as a player and a person. He's also adjusting to a new league, a new team and a new country. Sure, his attitude needs to improve and he must assume some responsibility for the drama he's been part of in St. Louis, but he's hardly the first player to clash with La Russa, the Cardinals manager. Ask Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Brendan Ryan or even Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith what it's like to play for the egotistical skipper?
Rasmus is a player in search of a fresh start and Toronto has become a refuge for similar outcasts. Devon White, Jose Bautista and Yunel Escobar all came to the Jays with less-than-stellar reputations and all blossomed into impact big leaguers. There's no reason Rasmus can't do the same.
It would, however, benefit Rasmus to corral his meddlesome father. Every dad should have a deep-rooted interest in the well-being of their son, but Tony Rasmus, whom La Russa hinted was the only batting coach that the younger Rasmus would listen to, needs to realize that conducting media interviews isn't his helping his son get a fresh start in Toronto.
The elder Rasmus, who coached his son to a national high school title in 2005, has already spoken to the Toronto media and told them that he hasn't been offering his son batting instruction in months.
But the only way Rasmus can get fans to forget about his overbearing father and his battles with La Russa is to produce, and most baseball pundits believe that, with this change of scenery, he will.
Acquiring Rasmus, who had 23 home runs and .361 on-base percentage last season, without parting with a top-tier prospect (Zach Stewart, with a 4.20 earned-run average at AA New Hampshire this season, was no longer considered a high-end prospect) or a core young player was another triumph for Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
Playing for Farrell in Toronto, Rasmus has the potential to club 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a season. On top of his offensive prowess, Rasmus also boasts a strong throwing arm and has the tools to be an elite centre-fielder.
So be patient with Rasmus. No, he hasn't torn the cover off the ball in Toronto yet, but keep in mind he's a 24 year old in a new league with a new team in a new country that has faced three of the American League's toughest southpaws (Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson and David Price). Next year at this time, Jays fans will likely be talking about him as one of the best centre fielders in the game.
And Rasmus would likely prefer that Jays fans do the talking as the Georgia-born outfielder isn't much for words.
Fortunately, his bat should speak volumes over the next couple of years, as he evolves into a cornerstone player on a team that seems destined to become a contender.
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