Queen to work with Minor Leaguers
Contrary to report, veteran coach will not evaluate farm system
BALTIMORE -- The Blue Jays insist that there are no ulterior motives to bringing Mel Queen on as a helping hand for their farm system. Queen wanted to work in baseball again, and Toronto was willing to offer him a chance to work with some of the organization's pitching prospects.
The 66-year-old Queen -- Toronto's pitching coach from 1996-99 -- is currently spending time at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., where he's been given an opportunity to work on "special projects," according to Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi.
"We thought it'd be a good opportunity to give him a chance to get back in the game," Ricciardi said.
Ricciardi was quick to add that a report that appeared in the Monday editions of the Toronto Sun, indicating that Queen was brought on board to "evaluate the organization," was completely false. The report cited unidentified scouts who had talked with Jays Minor League personnel.
"Contrary to what's been reported," Ricciardi said, "we're not bringing Mel back to evaluate our farm system. We're very happy with our farm system. We're really bringing Mel back because he wants to get back in the game. That's why we're bringing him back.
"We're going to put him on special projects in the Minor Leagues," he added. "Maybe a guy struggles throwing his curveball for strikes or a guy might have trouble commanding a fastball. We'll just give him small projects like that to work with."
Queen originally joined the Blue Jays in 1986 as a roving Minor League pitching instructor, then was named director of player development in 1990. Queen later served as a pitching coach under Toronto manager Cito Gaston, who began a second stint as the club's skipper this season.
"It's nice to have him back," Gaston said. "I'm pretty sure he can help some of our kids down there. It's good to have him back. I'm glad they did that. Good for him."
Ricciardi noted that Queen has contacted the Blue Jays about possible openings in the past, but the club didn't have a good role for him until now. Ricciardi said he told Dick Scott -- the club's farm director -- to keep Queen in mind for any potential jobs.
"Guys like to get back in the game," Ricciardi said. "And you like to give them a chance to get back in the game. Obviously, it's not at the same capacity he had before and it's not at the same responsibility he had before."
Ricciardi also dismissed a part of the Toronto Sun report that indicated that pro scout Rob Ducey was in the running for the director of player development position -- the role currently held by Scott.
"We're really, really happy with our Minor League people," Ricciardi said. "We're very happy with Dickie Scott and, contrary to what's been reported, Rob Ducey will not be our new farm director. Dickie Scott has done a great job.
"We're very happy with our drafted players and we're very happy with the development of our players, so we're not looking to bring anybody in here to shake up our Minor League system."
Ricciardi added that there is still a standing offer for Gary Denbo to become Toronto's roving Minor League hitting instructor. Over the winter, Denbo was signed to a two-year deal to be the Jays' hitting coach, but he was dismissed on June 20, along with two other coaches and manager John Gibbons, in light of the team's struggles.
"It's still out there," Ricciardi said. "But, I don't know how much longer it'll be out there. We've got to get someone to our instructional league."
The roving hitting instructor position was last held by Dwayne Murphy, who was hired to be Toronto's first-base coach when Gaston took over as manager.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.