TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays fired manager Charlie Montoyo on Wednesday after a rough patch in July and named bench coach John Schneider as interim manager for the rest of the season.
General manager Ross Atkins made the decision even though the Blue Jays are 46-42 on the season. They were clinging to the final wildcard spot in the American League entering the day, but trailed in fourth place in the Eastern Division.
Triple-A branch manager Casey Candaele was named interim bench coach.
“I really wanted this to have worked out with Charlie and it didn’t,” Atkins said before a home game against Philadelphia. “I’m very disappointed to find ourselves in this position. I think we can perform better than we’ve seen so far.”
Toronto beat Philadelphia on Tuesday to snap a four-game losing streak.
As the 13th manager in Blue Jays history and the first from Puerto Rico, Montoyo compiled a 236-236 record over four seasons.
“As players, we know things should be better, we have to do better,” Blue Jays outfielder George Springer said. “We know we have the ability. It hasn’t been seen yet. That’s what frustrates.”
Atkins said the decision to fire Montoyo was made within the last 24 hours.
“It got to the point where we feel like we have a lot of individuals that stand out and we need to do better as a team,” Atkins said.
The Blue Jays are 3-9 in July. They won just one of seven games on the road against Oakland, the team with the worst record in the majors, and Seattle. The road trip ended Sunday with a four-game sweep of the Mariners.
“I think we’ve reached our potential,” Atkins said. “I see some small opportunities to do it, and this is one of them.”
Montoyo became the third manager fired this season. The Los Angeles Angels released Joe Maddon and designated Phil Nevin in his place on June 7, four days after Philadelphia fired Joe Girardi and named Rob Thomson, who coached against Schneider on Wednesday.
Montoyo, 57, replaced John Gibbons as manager of the Blue Jays after the 2018 season. Only in April did the Blue Jays extend Montoyo’s contract through the 2023 season.
“I still believe in his leadership ability, but I felt this change was necessary,” Atkins said of Montoyo.
Schneider has been part of Toronto’s staff in the majors since 2019 and was promoted to bench coach this season.
Toronto’s losing streak began on July 2, when they were swept by Tampa Bay in a doubleheader. Montoyo and first base coach Mark Budzinksi left the dugout during Game 2 after learning of the death of Budzinski’s teenage daughter, Julia.
Several members of the Blue Jays organization traveled to Virginia on a day off Monday to attend Julia Budzinski’s funeral.
The Puerto Rican was at the forefront during a tumultuous stage. The team had to play its home games in three different cities last season, including two minor league stadiums, due to Canadian government border restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Toronto also had to play part of its home schedule in 2020 at its Triple-A branch’s stadium in Buffalo, New York.
Montoyo led Toronto to a 32-28 record, qualifying for the playoffs as wild cards thanks to a broader postseason format after a pandemic-shortened season. But the Blue Jays were swept by eventual AL champion Tampa Bay in the first round. Toronto closed 91-71 in 2021 and fell one game short of being tied for a wild card.
Before joining the Blue Jays, Montoyo served six seasons as a coach in the Tampa Bay organization, the last three as bench coach. Prior to that, he accumulated 18 seasons as a minor league manager in the Rays structure and worked with the Puerto Rico team in the 2019 World Classic.