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1997 Journals

Hello to all, I hope everyone had a nice holiday season. I'm enjoying the off-season, but I'm really looking forward to spring training and the start of the season.

Over the winter I've spent a lot time in the gym, in an effort to be ready to start playing. I've been working out at a place called IntenseCity, that specializes in personal training. My focus this winter has been on doing exercises that will help me increase my running speed.

The Bluejays have made several moves during the off-season, including signing Roger Clemens, and trading John Olerud. With the addition of Clemens, we now have one of the stronger pitching staffs in the league. I'm sorry to see John Olerud leave, he's a great hitter. I think that he will have a great year for the Mets. Despite losing John, I think our lineup will actually be better this year because of the players we added, including: Benito Santiago, Orlando Merced, and Carlos Garcia. Several of the teams in the American League East made moves to improve, and the division should be one of baseball's strongest in 1997.

I spent this New Year's in Lake Tahoe, NV. It didn't turn out quite as I had expected, as I got flooded in and caught a cold. I did manage however to stay awake until after midnight (Happy New Year to all).

Like a lot of you, I'm looking forward to the Super Bowl. I think its great that we've got some "new" teams this year. Nothing against the Cowboys and 49ers, but its nice to have different teams in the big game for a change. By the way, I'm picking Green Bay to win.

Talk to you soon....

Shawn

February 17, 1997

Hi everyone! I've been very busy since my last journal. I just arrived in Dunedin, Florida (near Clearwater) for spring training. It has been a hectic week because, as always, I waited until the last minute to pack up all my stuff for the move. I spent most of the weekend trying to get everything unpacked and settled in here.

Spring training started for the pitchers and catchers, but the rest of us don't start officially until Thursday. Even so, about 35 guys are already here working out. The workouts are pretty tough- at the end of the day all I want to do is flop down in front of the TV and fall asleep!

Things have been pretty exciting so far- there are a lot more fans and media people around this year than at previous Spring Training workouts. I think some of that is attributable to all of our off-season acquisitions. Whatever the reason, I am happy to see everyone out this year.

As for the team, I don't forsee any big surprises during spring training. I think our roster is about as set as any team's roster gets at this point. My focus is just on maintaining the intensity of my workouts for now.

Later...

Shawn

February 24, 1997

Everything is great so far here in Dunedin. We're now four days into official Spring Training 1997. At this point, everyone is really just trying to get back into the swing of things. It takes a little while to get back into top shape after the off-season, although I am feeling pretty good thanks to all the training I did this winter. I went through a period where I felt pretty dead after we started, but thankfully, my energy level has gone back up since then.

We have our first pre-season game on Friday against the Pirates. At this point, no one is too concerned about how they play- the focus is just on getting used to playing again. Still, it's a good chance to get a look at alot of pitchers. My main goal for Spring Training is pretty simple- I want to peak at the very end so I'm playing my best come Opening Day.

I'm probably making Spring Training seem like all work and no play- for the most part that's true. I think I do less socially during Spring Training than at any other time during the year. However, even I get out every once in awhile :) On Thursday, the team is participating in a charity golf tournament which I'm looking forward to. I don't play a lot of golf (certainly not compared to some guys on the team!), but it should be a good time. I like events like this because it provides an opportunity to have fun and to help out people in need at the same time. You always seem to walk away from an event like that with a funny story or two.

That's about all I have for now. I'll talk to you next week after we've played our first game....

Shawn

March 10, 1997

Hey there - it has been a busy two weeks since my last journal. Since we started playing our Spring Training games on February 28th, we've had a game basically everyday.

I feel like I'm finally getting to the point where I've had enough at-bats to start feeling comfortable with my swing. When Spring Training first starts, you feel different everyday. Actually, you feel different every at-bat. After about a dozen games, I feel like my timing is back for the most part. I've felt better hitting in the last few games. Right now, you really can't worry about results. Instead of worrying about where the ball falls, I've been focusing on making solid contact and getting to the ball on time. If I can accomplish those two things consistently, the rest will fall into place soon enough.

I've also had a great opportunity to work on my base running skills this spring. We had Andy McInnis (who is the sprint coach for the Canadian National Track & Field Team) in camp for about 5 days. He worked intensively with a few of us on stealing bases & getting good jumps. He brought a unique perspective and it was really a treat to learn from him. All of the guys who worked with him have been really excited with the results- myself included.

On the whole, I'd have to say I am pretty pleased with my camp thus far. I expect to feel good for about another week. After that, I know I'm going to start getting anxious for the regular season to start!

Talk to you later!

Shawn

March 17, 1997

Happy St. Patrick's Day! The team has played so many games lately, it's almost hard to keep track of them all. Right now, it seems like we win one, we lose one. People are really still trying to find their games. That's okay though, because it is still early enough in Spring Training that there is no need to worry. By the end of next week, everyone should be feeling better & I think we'll be ready for Opening Day.

This year's Spring Training has differed from past years to some degree. I think that we are a lot more optimistic about the upcoming season than we've been before. Guys like Felipe Crespo & Ed Sprague have been playing well for us this spring. We're also very excited about the new players we have in camp this year. We made some big additions who I think can make a real impact on the team this season. We've had a chance to get to know one another by now, and it has been great having guys like Roger Clemens around.

Like I predicted in my last journal, we are starting to get anxious for the regular season to start. We feel good about our chances this season and are ready to get out there and play. I've put a few posts from my message boards below.

March 25, 1997

This should be my last journal entry before we wrap up Spring Training and head back to Toronto. I guess that makes it a good time for me to give you a recap of my thoughts on Spring Training. Overall, I am definitely happy with the way things have gone this spring, bothpersonally and for the team as a whole. For starters, we had great weather the entire time, which is especially nice since it will be pretty cold for the first few weeks when we get back toToronto. (At least we play inside!)

It comes as no surprise that our pitching staff has performed consistently well this spring. They have been very solid and should live up to expectations this season. On the other hand, we have been on-and-off offensively in the pre-season. Inconsistent hitting is pretty typical for this time of year though. As I said in my journal last week, it takes guys a while to find their games. In the last week, things have finally started to come together for us- just in time for Opening Day.

The biggest change for me this spring has been my move from right field to left. We picked up Orlando Merced in the off-season, so that gave us two natural right fielders. Moving to left really doesn't bother me at all. I've had a chance to acclimate myself to the change in Spring Training & I feel pretty comfortable out there by now. Left or right- it doesn't matter to me as long as I am playing.

We have a few more games left before we pack up and leave Florida on Sunday night. I think that everyone is ready to head back to Toronto and get the season underway. We have our season opener at home against the White Sox on Tuesday. I'll check in with you again after Opening Day.

I've included some of the posts from my message boards below...

Shawn,

I love your swing. I've watched you and followed your statistics ever since you first started playing in the major leagues. I was just wondering who taught you your swing and how they helped your game.

Shawn

My dad taught me my swing. I've also spent a lot of time watching great hitters to try and pick up hints. I'd also suggest reading Ted Williams' book- I think it contains some valuable information. The most important thing I do to improve my swing is simple- repetition,repetition, repetition.

What's the hardest part about playing in the majors?

For me, the hardest part about playing in the majors is making adjustments to the pitching. If you're struggling at the plate, pitchers will continue to capitalize on your weaknesses until you prove you can hit a particular pitch. Even when you're hitting well, the pitchers will keep throwing different kinds of stuff at you until they find something you have trouble hitting.

Sean, I am a 18 year-old 1st baseman from Toronto who is looking for some advice. It seems that wherever I turn for advice that it is tainted by someone's own intrests. I was drafted drafted in the 1996 Amateur Free Agent Draft (2nd round) by the Florida Marlins. Now here is my question.The Marlins want me to enter their minor league system and begin to work my way up to the majors.That is one option.Where the problem comes, is that Pepperdine, Stanford and Texas A&M have all offered me fullscholorships to play baseball for them. I know that an education is important, but how often does an opportunity like this present itself? So far I have not been able to get an honest answer.

Please help!

Thanks

On an important decision such as whether to attend college or play pro, you really have to pay attention to your gut feeling. Only you can make that choice. I can't give you any real advice without knowing the details of your situation- I can only tell you about my personal experience.

I don't regret my decision to sign out of high school at all. I know that I am a better baseball player now than I would have been had I played college ball. But, I did not have to forego college altogether. I spent two years as a student at Stanford during the off-season, even though I didn't play on the team. I feel like I got the best of both worlds with my decision- I improved as a baseball player without having to entirely sacrifice the experience of college life.

Whatever you do will be the right decision for you. Good luck!

April 14, 1997

Since my last journal, we have kicked off the 1997 regular season. So far, we've only played series against the White Sox and the Brewers and we are 4-4. We opened the season at home, so playing in the chilly April weather was not a problem in the confines of the SkyDome. However, after the first two series we went on the road to Chicago and Milwaukee here the atmosphere was less accomodating (to say the least!)

We were only able to get in 3 games on the road- the rest were either rained or snowed out. This makes it really tough to get into a rhythm as a team. To be honest, it also gets pretty boring. When we were on the road last week, it was too cold to even get out and see much of the cities we visited. I didn't want to leave the hotel except maybe to get a meal. We ended up watching a lot of movies on SpectraVision last week. I am really happy to be back playing in a dome again.

This week, we have two-game series at home against both the Royals and the A's. I'm looking forward to getting back into a rhythm after all of last week's delays. Toward the end of the weekwe head back out on the road again - thankfully to the warmer climates of Texas and Anaheimthis time!

I am especially looking forward to our trip to Anaheim because it will give me a chance to see my family and friends. I grew up in Orange County, not all that far from Anaheim Stadium, and even make my off-season home there. It is always great to get back home for a few days. On the other hand, that trip is always more hectic and distracting as I try to see everybody in a short time. I'm usually ready to head back to Toronto after a few days!

I'll try to check in with you again sometime next week once we've played a little more baseball...

April 25, 1997

I'm back home again for a few days. We've been bouncing all over the place lately. In the past week or so, we've flown from Toronto to Texas to Anaheim and back home to Toronto again. It is nice to be home again, even if it is only for a few days. It gives me a chance to catch up on all my sleep- we took the red-eye back from Anaheim, which is always rough. The way our schedule is structured makes our road trips to the West Coast pretty tough. Rather than going on one big road trip and playing Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle all at once, we make three separate trips out there. I think I'd rather just do it all in one shot, but I don't plan the schedule! :)

We had mixed results on our road trip. Playing the Rangers in Texas is usually a challenging match-up, so we were happy to take two of three games in the series. The Rangers are a good team with a bunch of top-notch players, but they also have quite a few guys who are hurt right now. Their injury situation made it imperative for us to go in there and beat them while we had an advantage of sorts.

Unfortunately, we did not fare as well against the Angels. As I mentioned in my last journal, I grew up in Orange County so playing in Anaheim is like going home for me. Obviously, I would have liked to win more than one of three games when we played in front of my family and friends! Our losses against the Angels were close -- we cannot afford to blow leads and lose games in extra innings like we did in Anaheim if we are to succeed as a team. The series was especially difficult for me because we faced three left handed pitchers, so I didn't get much playing time. I was disappointed that I didn't get a chance to play much when I had friends andfamily watching. Still, it was great to see everyone, even if it was only for a few days.

Tonight, we play the first game of three against the Seattle Mariners here in Toronto. In my opinion, the Mariners have one of the best lineups in the league. Roger is pitching for us tonight, and he has been great all season. Even so, we need to start scoring more runs and avoiding mistakes on defense to back up our pitching staff. After this weekend's homestand, we head back out on the road to play the Royals.

I'll try to catch up with you from Kansas City...

Shawn May 6, 1997

It has been a good week so far for the Blue Jays -- we've won our last three behind some great pitching performances. Roger gave us yet another outstanding game last night as we beat the Tigers 3-1. Pat Hentgen threw a shutout for his best game all year against the Twins on Sunday.

We haven't been scoring very many runs, but our pitching staff has been holding us in the games. I'm sure our staff would appreciate it if we'd start providing them with a little back-up offensively! I agree that it is important for us to start scoring more runs as a team - we can't count on our pitchers to throw shutouts or one-run games every day. I'm not sure I can pinpoint specific difficulties that, once solved, will cure our offensive woes. I think it is just a general matter of getting guys on base more often and being aggressive.

We have one more game at home against the Tigers tonight. Woody Williams will start for us tonight - he's been pitching really well this year, we just haven't given him enough support. Detroit is a much improved team this year.. I'm not sure I can pinpoint specific difficulties that, once solved, will cure our offensive woes. I think it is just a general matter of getting guys on base more often and being aggressive.

We have one more game at home against the Tigers tonight. Woody Williams will start for us tonight - he's been pitching really well this year, we just haven't given him enough support. Detroit is a much improved team this year. They have some really good players in guys like Tony Clark and Bobby Higginson. I'm not sure if you are detecting a theme yet, but I think it is important for us to start scoring more runs!!! ;)

Well, the last time I wrote my journal I went out and hit two home runs. I'm hoping that this is good luck for me! I promise to catch you again from the road at the end of this week.

Shawn

May 9, 1997

I didn't have the time to write a long journal on Tuesday, so I promised to check in again at the end of the week and here I am :) In the three games since my last journal, we've had two wins (one in Detroit and one in Cleveland) and I had pretty good games at the plate both Wednesday and Thursday. Maybe this journal brings me good luck after all! Tuesday night, we faced a lefty, so I spent a lot of time "watching" the game, so to speak. It is a little frustrating to sit every time we face a left-handed pitcher to tell the truth. Of course, I would love to be playing every day. But, there really isn't anything I can do about that right now. The best thing for me to do is to go out there and play my hardest every chance I get and hope that I'll eventually get the opportunity to become an every day player.

I did get a chance to face my first lefty this season not too long ago when we played the Mariners. That lefty's name? Randy Johnson - maybe you've heard of him? LOL Really though, it was a lot of fun to face him. I often am asked what it is like to face him, so now I have an answer. I would have loved to have gotten a hit off of him, but I was pretty happy to just get the ball in play a few times. Overall, battling against Randy Johnson at the plate was both a memorable and enjoyable experience.

Tonight, we start a series against the Twins in Minnesota that will run all weekend. Minnesota is always a tough team. They are always competitive and very scrappy. Right now, they have several guys who are hurt. That makes it important for us to get a few Ws while we have an advantage at their park.

I made it into my message boards for a few minutes yesterday and left a few replies to your posts. I've enjoyed reading your posts - thanks for the feedback! Until next week...

Shawn

May 13, 1997

With the exception of last night (when we were blown out by the Twins), we have been playing very well for the past week or so. Even though Chris Carpenter had a tough outing in his Major League debut last night, I don't think he has anything to worry about. He has great stuff and a good head on his shoulders, so I think he'll be around for a long time to come.

As you may know, the Jays picked up Ruben Sierra when he was released by the Cincinnati Reds. He is currently playing in our Minor League system, but I suspect he'll be up here sometime in the next two weeks. Somehow I doubt that we signed him to play Minor League ball. I'm not sure when we'll see him for the first time, as we really aren't told about that sort of thing until it happens. I've been asked a lot lately about my thoughts on Ruben's acquuisition since he will likely be playing left field as well. I really can't worry about it right now, because there isn't anything I can do about it. I have to go out there and concentrate on my game and play the best I can every day. It won't do me any good to stress about personnel decisions over which I have no control.

I am writing to you from Detroit, where we have a two-game series against the Tigers which starts tonight. We played them well at home last week, but as I've said before, the Tigers are a much improved team. Tony Clark had a good season last year, but he has really emerged this year and put up some great numbers. If we can pick up two more wins tonight and tomorrow, the Jays will have had a very successful road trip.

This weekend, we head home to play three against the Indians. We've had both good games and bad against them this season, but hopefully we can put together a couple of wins at home. We're still a couple of games behind the Orioles the AL East, but if we keep playing well I think we can slowly but surely close the gap between us.

May 23, 1997

I just got home from a very successful trip to New York, where we took both games from the Yankees. Since May 7th, we've played 13 games (10 of which were on the road) and were able to win eight of them. When you factor in that many of these games were against two of the best teams in the league (Cleveland and New York), I'd have to say that I am pretty happy with how things are going overall.

Winning both games at Yankee Stadium was really big for us as a team. The first game was a match-up between Pat Hentgen and Andy Pettite, last year's Cy Young winner and runner-up respectively. Pat pitched a shut-out against a strong Yankee offense to record the first W. The next night, Roger came out and pitched 8 innings of one-run ball to get his 200th career victory and the sweep of the series. Both guys turned in outstanding performances -- it is quite a feat to hold the Yankees to one run in two games.

Our recent success has put us in a pretty optimistic frame of mind. We have a good chance to be in the hunt come September. Still, we have a tough road ahead of us. We have a bunch of games against good teams coming up. Anaheim comes to the Skydome this weekend. The Angels have been hot lately. They have a few players who have been playing very well recently, including my fellow Athlete Direct member, Jim Edmonds.

We will also be playing against the Rangers and the Yankees in the next few weeks. Obviously, the Yankees are our AL East rivals, and the Rangers are currently atop the AL West standings, so those games will be crucial. It is important for us to keep some momentum going. We also have to hope that Baltimore cools off a little. Even when you are playing well, it is tough to move up in the standings on a team that keeps winning!

I'll be checking in on my message boards this week and answering some of your posts. Thanks for your comments, I've enjoyed reading them!

May 29, 1997

The Jays have cooled off a bit since my last journal. Over the past six games, we have only gone 2-4. The bright spot of the week was another great pitching performance by Roger Clemens, who has now upped his record to 9-0 on the season. For some reason, we are even better offensively when he or Pat Hentgen pitches. I can't really explain why our intensity level rises for their starts. However, it is something we will need to remedy if we are to be successful this season. After all, you don't make the playoffs by winning two-fifths of your games!

It also is not fair to some of the other pitchers. For example, Woody Williams has been pitching much better than his record reflects. He simply has not been getting the run support when he needs it. Unfortunately, we also lost Juan Guzman to the DL for awhile this week. He broke his thumb on a fielding play in his last outing. While he has had a rather "up and down" season thus far, we will certainly miss him in the rotation.

I guess you could say that the Yankees exacted their revenge on us for sweeping them at home, as they came to Toronto and did the same to us. I did not get much playing time, as Ruben Sierra was called up. I don't really have a whole lot to say on that issue. It is out of my control. All I can do is be as patient as possible and take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves.

We head out on a road trip to the West Coast for about a week, playing first in Oakland and then in Seattle. These trips are usually rough because your system never gets the chance to acclimate itself to the time change. We have only played two games against the A's this year, both of which we won. I hope we can continue that trend this weekend! I'll try to catch you again soon!

Shawn

June 3, 1997

Today is a very exciting day in the lives of a lot of young men. Why, you ask? Well, today marks the first day of the 1997 Baseball Draft. The next day or so will be filled with excitement, stress, and a few disappointments for hundreds of Major League hopefuls across the nation.

I remember well my own Draft Day in 1991. I was an 18 year-old senior in high school in Tustin, CA. I had already signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Stanford the next fall and was excited to go away to college.

Then, the Blue Jays took me with the 16th pick overall in the first round of the draft. Suddenly, I had a big decision to make -- did I sign with the Jays or go to Stanford?

Both before and after the draft, a top prospect has all kinds of people visiting to negotiate with him and attempt to sway his position. They are constantly asking all kinds of questions -- If we draft you, will you sign? How much money will it take? and so on. To be honest, it is a pretty tough position to be in when you are only a 17 or 18 year-old kid.

I delayed my decision until the fall, and even showed up at Stanford without making a decision. It was a very tough choice -- academics was important to me and I was excited about going to college, but I had also dreamed of playing professional baseball since I was a little kid. Finally, I realized that preparing for a career in baseball was not all that different from preparing for other types of careers. To be a lawyer, you go to law school; to be a big league ball player, you go through the minor league system.

Fortunately, I was also able to work out a compromise where I could attend Stanford during the off-season, so I did not totally miss out on the college experience. I attended class, joined a fraternity and did everything else a normal college student does for two years. When it looked like I had a legitimate shot at making the big leagues, I left school to concentrate on baseball. I haven't totally forgotten about my education though; I took classes at UCLA this past off-season to work toward my degree.

All in all, draft day is a thrilling and nerve-wracking time. It is a huge decision about what path you want to take in life, with risk and sacrifice involved on both sides of the issue. It is tough to filter through the hyperbole you hear from different interests to get to the essence of the matter.

I can look back on my draft experience now with no regrets, but to be honest, I am very glad I will never have to go through it again!

June 12, 1997

We've been playing around .500 ball since my last journal. Not horrible, but also not enough for the division in which we play. On a bright note, we got a win from Robert Person recently, which was the first win by a non-Clemens or Hentgen starter since early May. Hopefully, we can continue to provide them with some run support, because they have been pitching better than their records reflect.

We head to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies in our first-ever interleague games this weekend. I am really looking forward to the experience. It should be fun to visit new cities (for instance, this will be my first trip to Philadelphia). It should be interesting to face new teams as well. I am hoping we get the opportunity to face the top pitchers as well. I'm not sure what the matchups will be, but when Atlanta comes to play us at home next week I hope we face Maddux. He is the most dominant pitcher of the decade, and I'd enjoy the opportunity to see him work up close.

Interleague play has also provided a little comic relief, as our pitchers will have to hit in NL parks. This will be the first time many of them have hit in the majors. Pitchers' batting practice can be pretty funny. Some guys, like Hentgen, don't really care much and just want to focus on pitching. However, a few guys are getting into the whole thing. I think Woody Williams and Robert Person are pretty excited about the fews at-bats they are going to get.

It seems like summer has finally arrived. I got the chance to go out and play golf twice while I was home. Alex Gonzalez, Jacob Brumfield and I went out both times and brought Robert Person and Otis Nixon with once each. I must admit that I shot the worst of everyone, but I still managed to come out of it $7 ahead (pretty high stakes, huh?) ;)

OK- the crossword is calling my name so I'll catch you later!

June 20, 1997

It felt good to be back in the lineup again this week. I hadn't been playing much lately, so I just had to hope that the work I had been doing would have me ready to go. I guess it must have done the trick, because I had a big game against Maddux and the Braves. It was really exciting to have a great game on my first one back in the lineup.

I went 3-for-4 with 2 homers, the first of which came off Maddux in my first at-bat. He doesn't put too many pitches right over the plate, so I feel fortunate that I was able to hit it out the one time he did. Still, it is too bad that we didn't win the game. That was one we really should have taken. I guess that is why the Braves are the best and have consistently been on top for the past few years.

Overall, interleague play was fun. Like a lot of other players, I wasn't a fan of the idea at first. After playing a few series, I've seen that everyone, fans and players alike, enjoys the interleague games. The parks are filled for games and you get to see some good matchups that you'd otherwise miss. Our biggest interleague games are yet to come -- Montreal comes to town on July 1st for a series, which should be huge here.

This week we turn away from the novelty of interleague play to some crucial games in our division. This is a very important time for us. We are facing some good teams -- Atlanta last week, Baltimore this week. We will also play Boston in the near future. This is the time for us to play catch-up and try to make some headway on the Orioles' lead in the AL East.

I got to play some golf again this week. I'm starting to really get into the game for the first time. Before this year, I had played here and there, maybe in a few charity tournaments and the like. I'm still shooting pretty high, but I'm having fun with it. At least I am hitting a few more good shots now!

Thanks for all your words of encouragement and your questions. I've enjoyed reading them all. I'll catch you again next week.

June 26, 1997

We have some good news and some bad news this week, boys and girls. Which would you like to hear first? The good news, you say? OK then, the good news is that I have been in the lineup most of the week and have had the chance to get several more at-bats. I must admit that I am very happy to be back in the lineup, and I am having fun out there right now. I have been hitting pretty well over the last 10 days, and have bumped my average up quite a bit. I am just trying to use this opportunity to prove that I deserve to be in the lineup every day.

The bad news is...we just cannot seem to win a game. We have now lost five straight -- our worst skid all season. It seems like no matter how many runs we score, it is always one too few. It is frustrating, but every team goes through a stretch where they struggle during the season; we just have to battle through it.

Our next two series are against teams that are playing exceptionally well -- Baltimore and Montreal. The Orioles have been great all year, and the Expos are on one of the hottest streaks in the game lately. We're in a really tough division this year, and we need to play hard in Baltimore and try to gain some ground.

Our bats have finally come alive recently, after lying near comatose for most of the early season. Now, we just need to play good defense and have our pitching hold. We relied on our defense and pitching during the early going, and they were able to keep us in the game. However, lately we seem to have had a slight reversal of fortune. If we can put our early pitching and defense together with our current offense we should be in good shape.

The Expos come to town on July 1st for an interleague series. For those of you in the States who might not know, July 1st is Canada Day. Thus, there are all kinds of festivities planned for the first all-Canada matchup. It should be a lot of fun for both the fans and the players.

I'm still not sure what I'll be doing during the All-Star break. Unfortunately, the break is not quite long enough for me to make it back home to California. I would end up spending all my time traveling! Right now, I think I'll probably stay in Toronto and relax and maybe play a little golf. Well, we didn't get into Baltimore until 3am last night, so I'm still a little tired. I think I'm going to try to take a nap before we leave for the park. Until next week...

July 2, 1997 It has been a big week here in Toronto. We had a huge series in Baltimore, sweeping 4 games from a team that is not only our intradivisional rival, but also the hottest team in the game so far this season. The significance of those wins cannot be overstated. It was really big for us, and puts us back on track somewhat as we head into the All-Star break.

Unfortunately, we've had a minor setback this week against the Expos. We've lost both our games by 2-1 margins. Each game featured a great pitching matchup. In the first game, we had Pat Hentgen, last year's Cy Young winner, up against Pedro Martinez, who has been outstanding all season. Yesterday's game had Roger Clemens facing Jeff Juden, a pitcher who is having a career year. Juden carried a no-hitter through the seventh inning until it was broken up by a home run by yours truly. :) It is always nice to break up a no-no, but it would have been much sweeter if we could have pulled out the win.

A win yesterday would have been extra nice, as we were facing Montreal on Canada Day. Canada Day is basically the Canadian equivalent of 4th of July in the States. All kinds of extra festivities took place for the occasion. For example, we wore special uniforms (which was sort of fun because we never wear sleeveless uniforms normally). There was also a fireworks show for everyone after the game. I didn't stay for the fireworks though, because I wanted to get in a quick workout before I went home. Besides, those events usually aren't quite as enjoyable after you've just lost a big game!

We have one more game today against the Expos to redeem ourselves and avoid the sweep. Then we play host to the Yankees in a crucial 4-game series before the Break. I really think we need to win 4 out those 5 games for us to start the second half of the season where we want to be. That is no easy task, but then again, neither was sweeping Baltimore. If we put together our best games, I definitely think it is feasible.

I'm looking forward to a few days off during the Break. It will be a nice chance to hang out and relax. Most guys get to spend some time with their families, but I won't be able to make it out to California in such a short span of time. I'll make an effort to get into my message boards sometime during the All-Star break to answer a few questions and I'll catch you with another journal next week from Boston. Enjoy the All-Star game!

November 6, 1997

Hey there! I hope you are enjoying the offseason -- I know I am. :) Now that I am back home and all settled in, I've been hitting the golf course and even doing a little fishing. Last week, I went on an all-day fishing excursion in the Pacific Ocean. I caught one keeper, a calico bass. I had a few other bites on my line, but I am not an expert angler by any means and they got away.

I also plan to use the offseason to work on my golf game. I started playing during last offseason and really enjoyed the challenge. My latest golf event is Ed Sprague's charity golf tournament up in Stockton, CA. These events are always fun -- you get to see some friends, play a little golf and even raise some money for a good cause in the process.

I also am planning to head to Miami for a little vacation time soon. My other big trip is to Maui in early December for the players' meeting. I was the players' rep for the Blue Jays this past year (although I have recently passed the reins on) and you can't beat Maui in December, so I thought I would pop on over for the meeting.

Not much else new to report here, so I think I'll sign off. I need to head to the gym for my workout. I've started working out again to get back into shape. I am focusing on flexibility this winter and, to a lesser degree, adding some more muscle. I'll let you know how things are going in a little while.

Shawn

November 12, 1997

Hey there -- I just got home from Ed Sprague's charity golf tournament in Stockton, CA and I figured it was a good time to check in with a journal. The tournament was a lot of fun. They had a good group of guys show up including Ed (of course), Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Dale Sveum, Jim Abbott and Buck Martinez.

As you may know, Buck is one of the candidates for our managerial job. The rumor is that they will be making a decision on the position sometime this week. From what I hear, Buck and Tim Johnson are the two frontrunners right now. Davey Johnson is also interviewing today, so he has a shot at the job as well. I have faith in our front office, and feel confident that they will make a wise choice.

The other big baseball news is the expansion draft. I think it should be a very interesting period next week, as there will probably be quite a few surprises. Some guys that you would expect to be protected will be exposed and vice versa. Expansion drafts are a great opportunity for a bunch of young players to get their chances in the big leagues. There are always a few really good players trapped in the minors behind top-notch big leaguers. Expansion gives some of these guys the chance to catch on with teams that can really use them or possibly opens up a spot for them within their own club. I guess we'll just have to wait and see about it all...

As I said before, I am heading to Miami for a little R&R next week. I'll check back with you after that to give you my impressions on the expansion draft and hopefully to discuss the Jays' new manager. I'd love to hear your thoughts on either topic -- leave me a message on my boards! See ya... Shawn

December 9, 1997

It's been almost a month since I last checked in with a journal -- sorry for the delay, but the offseason can be an amazingly busy time! Every year, you think that you are going to spend all your time relaxing in the offseason, but really you have to cram in everything you let slide while you focused on baseball.

My big offseason project this year has been remodeling my house. I bought a house at the beach, but some of it hadn't been fixed up for like 40 years, so it has required a lot of work! Of course, we have also been getting slammed by El Nino, which tends to slow things down a little as well.

I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now, so I am hoping to be all done by the first of the year. That will still give me a month and a half to enjoy it before I head off to Spring Training.

Spring Training should be very interesting this year, as we have a new manager and a bunch of new faces on the team. No one really knows what to expect so I am working out extra hard this offseason so I am prepared if it is like boot camp! I've heard a lot of good things about Tim Johnson, our new manager. He's held a variety of positions within the game, and I've talked to guys who have played for him who said he is a great manager. We've also added a lot of new players to the club, including signing Randy Myers from the Orioles to close, Darrin Fletcher from the Expos who is a great pickup at catcher, Tony Fernandez at second, and Mike Stanley to play catcher or DH.

We are definitely going to be a deeper team overall this year. The other element of the equation is chemistry. You never really know how the chemistry will be until you start playing together. However, the chemistry has been pretty lousy the past few years (and last year especially), so I think that the only place it can go is up. Shawn