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Atkins confirms Schneider returning as manager, explains Berríos decision

Toronto Star / Getty

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins confirmed John Schneider will return as manager next season while also explaining the removal of José Berríos from their season-ending playoff loss to the Minnesota Twins during a press conference on Saturday.

"I was surprised he was coming out. ... I thought it was a courageous decision," Atkins said of the controversial move to take Berríos out of the game, according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi.

The executive explained it was Schneider and his staff who mapped out the pitching strategy for Game 2, which saw the right-handed Berríos removed in favor of left-hander Yusei Kikuchi in the fourth inning despite the former pitching well and only throwing 47 pitches.

The move, which was frowned upon by some Blue Jays players, backfired when the Twins scored the game's only two runs against Kikuchi after Berríos exited.

"John Schneider made that decision," Atkins said, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith.

Atkins went on to say he didn't believe Schneider felt any pressure from the front office to make the decision and that none of the pre-planned strategies were 100% locked in, per Davidi. He added the front office isn't part of the strategy meetings with Schneider and his staff, and he stands by his manager's decision despite the result.

"The strategy was one that in the end was effective," Atkins said before pointing at the team's lack of offense in the series as a bigger reason for the playoff defeat, according to Nicholson-Smith.

Atkins explained he had faith the Blue Jays' offense, which finished 14th in runs scored after ranking fourth in 2022, would turn around throughout the season but expects some changes to be made to address the issues before the beginning of next season.

The executive also briefly discussed the future of right-hander Alek Manoah. He said he expects the 25-year-old to be motivated to restore his success after a dreadful campaign that saw him post a 5.87 ERA in 19 starts, which included two demotions to the minors.

Atkins said Manoah, who finished third in American League Cy Young voting in 2022, hasn't asked for a trade.

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