TORONTO -- Yu Darvish made his long-awaited Toronto debut on Monday night at Rogers Centre, but it wasn't in the uniform some people might have expected several months ago.
Blue Jays fans worked themselves into a frenzy during the offseason after countless media reports linked Toronto to the Japanese sensation. Several reports even surfaced in the days leading up to Darvish's official announcement that the club had submitted the highest bid.
Those reports were eventually proven false and forced the Blue Jays to deal with the public-relations fallout. That should hardly come as a surprise for an organization that prides itself on being notoriously tight-lipped and not commenting on rumors.
"The same way we're linked to every player, we're linked to every trade, I've just become numb to it, I just accept it," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said when asked how he dealt with the faulty reports. "This is just part of the way we do things. These are the unfortunate things that are going to happen.
"There are other components that I'm trying to work through as well from a strategy standpoint -- negotiations, trades. We read what every other club is quoted as saying. We try to use that to our advantage. I think clubs do the same with us."
Anthopoulos' stance on dealing with speculation in the media isn't anything new as he implemented the policy immediately after becoming the club's GM in the fall of 2009.
The reason behind taking a cloak-and-dagger approach in personnel decisions is that Anthopoulos believes by revealing too much, it could negatively impact his ability to do a good job.
If free agents know exactly how much the Blue Jays have to spend, they could end up asking for more money. If opposing teams hear about a potential trade, they could make some last-minute phone calls and run interference.
The downside to that approach, though, is that rumors about the Blue Jays have a tendency to run rampant after being left unchecked. The more talk Blue Jays fans hear about the possibility of Darvish or first baseman Prince Fielder, the more they believe it's going to become a reality.
Anthopoulos tried to temper those expectations by talking at great length about his club's "payroll parameters" during the Winter Meetings in Texas. He kept things generic, but strongly implied that his club would not be a major player for any marquee free agent.
Turns out not even his fellow colleagues believed much of that.
"I had a GM ask me about the Darvish scenario before it was done," Anthopoulos explained. "I said I don't see us being really big on free agents, fitting everything into our payroll and so on. I think the comment was, 'You're a worse sandbagger than I am.' I'm not sandbagging. That's just the way it is."
Anthopoulos and Texas' Jon Daniels were the only GMs in baseball to personally scout Darvish last year in Japan. The Rangers were the team which ended up submitting the highest bid at $51.7 million to win exclusive negotiating rights to the powerful right-hander.
Only time will tell whether the investment in Darvish proves to be a smart business decision, but there are at least some encouraging early results. Darvish, who surrendered five runs in his first two big league innings, entered play on Monday having allowed just two more in his past 24 innings.
With only four starts under his belt, the sample size is still small and teams are left trying to assemble scouting reports based on limited action. Anthopoulos admitted that besides what the club learned about him last year, he doesn't have a great read on what to expect.
"It's early -- we're not really scouting him -- he's not a guy I expect to be available in trades," Anthopoulos jokingly said. "I've just seen the highlights and you see the stats like everyone else. Sounds like he had an unbelievable game against New York. But other than that it's just three weeks into the season, four weeks into the season, the same way if you were to ask me about Albert Pujols. We're just not really scouting him now."