Guerrero Jr.’s arrival an unprecedented chapter in Blue Jays history

Sportsnet

Even just two games into his career with the team, it is safe to say that there has never been anyone quite like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and there may never be again.

To a great extent, that is a tribute to the awesome skill and exceptional poise of the player himself. But the young Guerrero also finds himself in the midst of a unique set of historical, cultural and economic circumstances that have shaped his development, as well as his arrival.

Certainly, the Blue Jays have had their share of remarkable players over the years, and they all had their debuts. Tony Fernandez’s arrival was one of the key elements that changed the Blue Jays franchise from an addled and sometimes embarrassing expansion franchise to the perpetual contender that they became in the mid-to-late 1980s. His arrival was heralded enough that he was at least mentioned in season previews before the 1984 season, after having had his September call-up the previous year.

Fernandez was called up after Victoria Day in 1984, shortly before his 22nd birthday, and promptly started his season 0-for-19. In fact, Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox scarcely started Fernandez in his first month in the big leagues that year, using Fernandez primarily as a pinch hitter, pinch runner and defensive replacement. One could only imagine if Charlie Montoyo were to give Bo Bichette the same treatment when he arrives, eventually.

Carlos Delgado followed a similar path, getting summoned for two games in September of 1993 — as a catcher, don’t forget — before starting the next season off with the big club. Delgado came into that season as the fourth-ranked prospect in baseball, but such things weren’t really part of the daily discussion. If anything, Delgado’s reputation amongst Jays fans was defined more by his first three weeks of the 1994 season, in which he slammed eight home runs, than any previous knowledge of his exploits in Syracuse, or Knoxville, or St. Catherines.

#baseball, #professional

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