DIAZ FINDS HIS FIT

Calgary Sun - - SPORTS - Rob LONGLEY @lon­g­ley­sun­sport rlon­g­ley@post­media.com

When Aled­mys Diaz looks around the Blue Jays club­house, he doesn’t see a team that fell flat on its face in 2017.

He doesn’t see an ag­ing group mov­ing past its best-be­fore date or a team that’s play­off hopes hinge more on good for­tune than good base­ball.

In­stead, the new Jays short­stop sees a de­ter­mined team with enough past ac­com­plish­ments to have se­ri­ous po­ten­tial for re­newed suc­cess.

“We can’t con­trol what the peo­ple say out­side about us, but it you look at it, base­ball is a game of num­bers,” Diaz said on Wed­nes­day through trans­la­tor Jo­sue Pe­ley. “If you look across this room, we all had suc­cess at one point of our ca­reers. I think right now we’re just putting it all to­gether and we’re hav­ing some fun. It’s work­ing so far and ev­ery­one is close and wants to have a suc­cess­ful sea­son.”

Diaz is front and cen­tre among those, hav­ing been named to the Na­tional League all star team in 2016 when he was in St. Louis. He re­gressed at the plate last sea­son but Jays gen­eral man­ager Ross Atkins saw a po­ten­tial re­turn to form in mak­ing a deal for him this past win­ter.

Of course, more than any­thing Diaz and his Jays team­mates want lit­tle more than to play base­ball af­ter be­ing rained out for three con­sec­u­tive games. The most bizarre of those was Mon­day’s can­cel­la­tion at the Rogers Cen­tre, where mul­ti­ple leaks in the dumpy dome made the fa­cil­ity un­safe for play.

With games called off three days in a row, it has tem­po­rar­ily halted one of the hottest streaks of Diaz’s ca­reer.

When he’s on the field, how­ever, Diaz has shown that he can be money. Step­ping in for in­jured Troy Tu­low­itzki, he has been cred­i­ble de­fen­sively but also has shown power at the plate.

“You’re al­ways try­ing to get good at-bats ev­ery time you go out there and it’s al­ways fun to have a good game,” Diaz said of his con­tri­bu­tions thus far. “I’m happy that the work I’m do­ing so far mostly when we get wins. When you help the team get wins that means you’re do­ing your job.”

In the Jays most re­cent game this past Fri­day, Diaz was a big part of the rally past Cleve­land with a three-run homer to tie it in the fourth. Cou­pled with a home run in Bal­ti­more in their pre­vi­ous game, it was sec­ond time this sea­son Diaz had round-trip­pers in back-to-back games.

His four homers so far are the most by a short­stop and six of his nine hits have gone for ex­tra bases. The best part is that Diaz seems com­fort­able with his new en­vi­ron­ment and the early suc­cess.

“We have a lot of vet­er­ans on this team and they’re not just vet­er­ans, they’re good lead­ers,” Diaz said. “When you have lead­ers like that, it’s easy to stick to­gether. The chem­istry on the team is re­ally good.

“(A good start) is al­ways im­por­tant be­cause I think this is the hard­est month to play be­cause of the weather and how cold it is,” the 27-year-old na­tive of Santa Clara, Cuba added. “When you start good, it brings you nice mo­men­tum go­ing into the sea­son.”

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