Josh Donaldson admits it’s tough to say goodbye to the Toronto Blue Jays.
“It’s … been difficult to the extreme that I am leaving an organization that I was very much a big part of,” the new Cleveland Indians third baseman said Sunday in an introductory press conference after a trade on Friday.
“I had some quality years there that I’m not going to forget. But I’m also looking forward to trying to help this team win and moving forward as well.”
The Blue Jays dealt the 2015 AL MVP to the Indians for a player to be named later, continuing a rebuild process that has seen the team cut ties with some of its biggest stars from the 2015-16 playoff squads.
Donaldson has been out of the Blue Jays lineup since late May, dealing with a nagging calf injury. He played in a rehab game with single-A Dunedin on Tuesday, allowing the Blue Jays to place Donaldson on waivers and trade him prior to Friday’s deadline for players to become eligible to join a post-season roster.
“If I was writing a book, it’s not how I would have wanted it to go, but hopefully it has a happy ending,” said Donaldson, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
Donaldson did not provide a timeline for his return, but seemed to indicate he won’t be out too much longer.
“I feel very good about where I’m at right now,” said Donaldson, who took batting practice and ran the bases and did agility drills Sunday. “I’d rather not talk about it. I’d rather you see it and judge for yourself.”
Indians president Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona met with Donaldson after his workout. It’s still unclear what Donaldson will need to do before he’s ready to take over at third base. He could continue to work with the team or play on a minor league rehab assignment.
“That’s what we’re still working on,” Donaldson said. “Whenever that schedule is finalized between all parties, I’m sure it’s going to be addressed, how we’re going to move forward.”
In Cleveland, Donaldson reunites with former Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion. The two were seen talking in the dugout after Donaldson arrived Saturday night.
“We had a lot of fond memories together as teammates … I’m sure if you asked him as well, we’re excited about creating some new ones,” Donaldson said.
While the ending in Toronto was anything but perfect, Donaldson said he’s happy to be in Cleveland.
“I was excited because of the players you have in this clubhouse and how they’ve been able to have success throughout the years,” he said. “I’m also excited (because) if you probably go look back at my numbers in this ballpark, they’re pretty nice. I’m glad I’m going into a situation where I’ve had success before.”
The 32-year-old Donaldson batted .234 with five home runs and 16 RBIs this season for the Blue Jays. He hasn’t played since May 28 because of the calf injury. He also was out from April 11-May 2 with a shoulder problem.
The Indians begin a four-game series in Toronto on Thursday.
— with files from the Associated Press
The Canadian Press