ARLINGTON -- Manager John Gibbons received an unexpected honour on Thursday afternoon, when it was announced that he had been named to the American League coaching staff for the All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York on July 16.
Gibbons was added to the team by his good friend -- and Detroit manager -- Jim Leyland. The two first connected shortly after Leyland was named the Tigers' manager in 2005 and have been close ever since.
The 51-year-old Gibbons will be joined on the staff by White Sox manager Robin Ventura.
"It's a thrill just to get an opportunity in Major League Baseball to go to a game like that," Gibbons said. "Then, to be selected by Jim Leyland, I think the world of him. He's recognized in the baseball world as one of the top ever. His numbers speak for themselves.
"I've gotten to know him over the years, and he has always been very helpful to me if I ever had any questions. So I'm honoured, on both ends of it -- to be at the game and then to be selected by him."
The All-Star Game will be a homecoming of sorts for Gibbons, who played 18 games for the Mets in 1984 and 1986. The former catcher also managed in New York's Minor League system from 1991 to 2001 before joining the Blue Jays as a bullpen catcher in 2002.
This will mark Gibbons' second appearance at an All-Star Game. He worked the 2006 contest after being named to the coaching staff by then-White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
Whenever the Blue Jays face the Tigers, Gibbons can often be found having lengthy conversation with Leyland. The two shared some laughs during Spring Training, and the topics tend to be a little more lighthearted than the intense intricacies of the game.
"Little different things," he said. "Not a whole lot of strategy-type stuff ... but we just get together and have fun talking. He's a great story-teller, great joke-teller. You look at him, he's a hard-nosed, tough-looking guy, but he is very funny, and he has a big heart. Players love him, and he's had great success."
Blue Jays push Johnson's start back a day
ARLINGTON -- Josh Johnson's next scheduled start has been pushed back a day because of a blister on his right middle finger.
The right-hander was originally expected to pitch on Saturday but will instead take the mound for the series finale in Texas on Sunday.
Johnson developed the blister during his most recent outing, against the Rangers on June 9. He received medical attention during the game but continued pitching until he had to be removed after the fifth inning because of a high pitch count.
The 29-year-old is still searching for his first win of the season. He is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in six starts and previously missed six weeks because of inflammation in his right triceps.
As a result of the move, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey had his start moved up to Saturday, though he will still be pitching on normal rest because of Wednesday's rainout.
Dickey faced the White Sox in his previous outing and allowed seven runs on 10 hits over five innings. It was the third time in his past four outings that he surrendered at least six runs.
Blue Jays sign 16 Draft picks
ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays on Thursday officially signed 16 of their picks from last week's First-Year Player Draft.
Twenty-four players remained unsigned, including first-round selection Phil Bickford and second-round pick Clinton Hollon.
The Blue Jays did reach agreements with five of their top 10 selections, but terms of the deals were not disclosed.
The signees include high school pitchers Patrick Murphy (third round), Evan Smith (fourth round) and Daniel Lietz (seventh round). In addition, Toronto convinced high school catcher Danny Jansen to forgo college and sign a professional contract.
Bickford has been considered a relatively tough sign, and it's possible he will require an over-slot offer before agreeing to terms. The 17-year-old comes with a recommended slot of $2,921,400, and he just finished his senior year of high school with a 1.72 ERA while allowing 42 hits and striking out 159 in 99 1/3 innings.
The Blue Jays have $6,398,200 in their bonus pool to spend on this year's Draft class, an amount that ranks 17th in the Major Leagues.