Basso caught by surprise in firing as 51s manager

51s manager Mike Basso has been fired after one season in Las Vegas as part of numerous changes in the Toronto Blue Jays’ player development department.

Dick Scott also was fired as Toronto’s director of player development. He was one of the first hires made by former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, who was fired by Toronto on Oct. 3, after eight seasons without a playoff appearance, and replaced by Alex Anthopoulos.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” said Basso, a former Las Vegas Stars catcher who guided the 51s to a 71-73 record this year, the ninth straight losing season by the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate. “The reasons given were they were going in a different direction.

“Our farm director was let go, and I was let go with him. That’s just how the game goes.”

A call to Scott wasn’t returned.

Former Toronto assistant general manager Tony LaCava will oversee the team’s player development department, but it will be run on a daily basis by Charlie Wilson and Doug Davis.

Wilson was appointed director of minor league operations, and Davis, who was replaced as Toronto’s Triple-A manager by Basso, will replace Wilson as minor league field coordinator.

The Blue Jays have yet to name a manager for Las Vegas, but Wilson said, “We’re going to start the process in a week to 10 days and hopefully we can get this complete in three or four weeks.

“Doug and myself will sit down with Tony and talk about the whole system, players and staff. Hopefully we’ll have all our staff assignments and make some new hires.”

Toronto also made changes in its scouting department, naming Andrew Tinnish director of amateur scouting, Perry Minasian director of professional scouting and Jon Lalonde a pro scout, while firing scout Rob Ducey.

Anthopoulos told The Associated Press: “The foundation of this organization is going to be scouting and player development. It’s going to be the pillar of what we do here.”

51s president Don Logan said he was surprised at the changes in player development and praised the work performed by Scott and Basso, who guided Las Vegas to a 45-33 record after a 26-40 start.

“He had to keep everybody on the same page when we were 14 games under .500,” Logan said. “To compete that way is a tribute to Mike, who was such a good ambassador for us in the community.”

Basso, who played parts of four seasons for the Stars, was the 19th manager in the 27-year history of the Las Vegas franchise.

He helped promote 20 players to the Blue Jays, including Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player Randy Ruiz, and the 51s led the league in hitting with a .290 average.

Basso, 45, has earned Manager of the Year awards at the Rookie, Class-A and Double-A levels and has compiled a 763-717 record in 11 years as a minor league manager.

“I wish the Blue Jays all the best,” he said. “I’ll be fine. I’ll land on my feet.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or at 702-383-0354.

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