Notes: Gibbons affected by tragedy

Notes: Gibbons affected by tragedy

TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was saddened by the news of Mike Coolbaugh's untimely passing. Gibbons has known Coolbaugh's family for years, which made hearing about the unfortunate incident difficult to absorb.

On Sunday night, the 35-year-old Coolbaugh died after being struck on the head by a line drive. During a game in North Little Rock, Ark., he was coaching first base for Double-A Tulsa when Drillers designated hitter Tino Sanchez drove an ill-fated pitch into foul territory in the ninth inning.

"That wakes you up, because that's a guy out on the field," said Gibbons, who met Mike Coolbaugh through his brother, Scott. "He's involved in a baseball game and he loses his life."

In 1989, Gibbons and Toronto pitching coach Brad Arnsberg were Minor League teammates with Scott Coolbaugh in Oklahoma City. Mike Coolbaugh, who was drafted by the Jays in the 16th round of the 1990 First-Year Player Draft, was originally from Binghamton, N.Y., but he later moved to San Antonio, Texas, where Gibbons lives.

"That's a tragedy," Gibbons said. "They settled in San Antonio. So, we know the family. ... They live on the other side of town now, but we used to live fairly close. I used to workout a little bit with Scott."

Gibbons plans on calling Scott Coolbaugh to offer his condolences to him and to his brother's family. Mike Coolbaugh leaves behind his wife Mandy, who is expecting a child in October, and their two young sons, Joseph and Jacob.

Gibbons spent time as Toronto's first-base coach during the 2003-04 seasons, so he can understand what might have happened. When a runner is on base, a first-base coach has to keep an eye on the first baseman at times, which means his attention is away from the batter.

"It's scary," Gibbons said. "I remember coaching first base, sometimes you take your eye off the hitter, because you're watching the runner or you're watching the first baseman. I don't know what the circumstances were."

Blue Jays third-base coach Brian Butterfield also took the news hard.

"I don't know what happened," Butterfield said, "but I know that there's been several times where I haven't seen the ball very well. If you ask [Toronto first-base coach Marty Pevey], he's come back and said, 'I didn't see that ball very well at all.'

"It's such an unfortunate thing. That really touched my heart."

The rumor mill: Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi started shaking his head before the entire question had been asked. He knew immediately that the inquiry was about Toronto's rumored interest in Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson.

"We have no interest in Jack Wilson -- absolutely no interest," Ricciardi said emphatically. "None. I have Jack Wilson. I have John McDonald."

Ricciardi was shooting down a report in Monday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that cited two sources, who claimed the Blue Jays were in preliminary talks with the Pirates about potentially trading for the shortstop. According to the same report, Pittsburgh also came up dry when asking about the availability of Jays third baseman Troy Glaus.

Ricciardi didn't deny that he'd entertain offers for Toronto starter Josh Towers, whose two-year contract worth $5.2 million expires at the end of this season. One published report on Monday indicated that the Phillies may be one team interested in the right-hander.

"We'd listen on anybody. I think we'd be foolish not to listen," Ricciardi said. "But we're not going to trade Josh Towers for a bag of doughnuts. I've got to get something back that is a very good player for us to say, 'Hey, we can hang our hat on this guy.'

"I don't need to get somebody who's going to come to the big leagues right away, but I've also committed to try to win as many games as I can here. Josh gives us that opportunity."

Chacin rehabbing: On Monday, injured left-hander Gustavo Chacin made a three-inning rehab appearance for Triple-A Syracuse. Chacin, who has been on the disabled list with a shoulder injury since April 28, gave up three runs on five hits, including one home run, with one strikeout and no walks.

Ricciardi indicated that Chacin, who threw 53 pitches -- 34 for strikes -- is scheduled to throw four or five innings for Syracuse on Saturday, followed by an additional five-inning start at Triple-A on Thursday. Once the third outing is completed, Ricciardi said, "Hopefully, he'll be ready at that point to come back."

Lineup tweaks: Toronto catcher Curtis Thigpen, who was recalled from Triple-A on Saturday, made his first start of the season behind the plate on Monday night against the Twins. Gibbons added that Matt Stairs (.231 average against Johan Santana) was in the starting lineup at first base instead of Lyle Overbay (.091) because Stairs had better statistics vs. Minnesota's starter. Center fielder Vernon Wells hit cleanup for the first time this year.

Did you know? Entering Monday's game against the Twins, Blue Jays left fielder Reed Johnson owned a .563 (9-for-16) average in his career against Santana. That put him first all-time among hitters with at least 15 at-bats against the left-hander. Johnson belted a solo home run off Santana in the first inning.

Quotable: "If I didn't think we had a good club, I'd be the first guy out there trying to shake it up. But, I don't think we really need to shake it up. We just need a little break in the way of staying healthy." -- Ricciardi

Coming up: Toronto right-hander Dustin McGowan (6-5, 4.84 ERA) is slated to take the mound when the Blue Jays host the Twins at 7:07 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Rogers Centre. Minnesota will counter with righty Scott Baker (4-3, 5.32 ERA).

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.