TORONTO -- Once upon a time, between 1996-97, Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel played for Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston.
To Samuel, who squared off against his former mentor on Tuesday, Gaston was one of the best managers that he had the experience of playing under -- Gaston had a managing style that left an impression, and one that he is lucky enough to emulate today.
"I loved playing for Cito," Samuel said. "Every time people ask me who my favorite manager was, who I played for, I always say Cito and Sparky Anderson -- I always say those two guys."
While Samuel was nearing the end of his playing career when he signed with Toronto in 1996, he said Gaston's biggest attribute was not necessarily his knowledge of the game, but the communication he had with his players. Gaston, who led the Jays to World Series championships in '92 and '93, had a full-disclosure policy with his players. It was a policy that many players are not necessarily accustomed to, but one that they would appreciate in the long run.
"Some players don't like the truth, but you have to let them know and they will respect you more," Samuel said. "You have to be honest and let them know, and Cito was very good with that.
"I remember one year that he decided to play Carlos Delgado and Shaun Green a little bit more against lefties. He told me, 'You're [still] going to get the tougher lefties, the Randy Johnsons, the Mark Langstons, but I'm going to let the younger guys face some of them.' I said, 'I'll be ready, don't worry about me.' He said, 'I have to worry about my players.' I felt like it took a load off my shoulders. Knowing when [you're playing] and when you're not playing -- that means a great deal as a player."
True to form, Gaston remains in Samuel's corner as he embarks on his first, albeit temporary, stint as a Major League manager.
"I was kind of hoping he would get a chance to manage that team for a while," said Gaston. "When he was here with us, Sammy was always in the game.
"Sammy was a good player, a good person and a great guy," Gaston added.
After Dave Trembley was relieved of his managerial duties on June 4, Samuel had skippered the O's to a 16-29 record heading into Tuesday.