The Blue Jays turned back the clock Tuesday by hiring John Gibbons to be their new manager.
Gibbons spent parts of five seasons as Toronto's manager from 2004-08 and will once again assume that role, replacing John Farrell, who left last month for the Red Sox.
In some ways, the decision to hire the 50-year-old Gibbons came as a complete surprise. He hadn't been mentioned as a candidate during the month-long search and had been somewhat off the big league radar after spending the past season managing San Diego's Double-A affiliate in San Antonio.
But the secrecy surrounding the reported hiring of Gibbons is exactly how general manager Alex Anthopoulos prefers doing business -- away from the public eye. Anthopoulos managed to accomplish that by picking Gibbons out of the shadows and passing on the more than 10 candidates who had been reported as possibilities.
Gibbons will receive a second chance in Toronto. He compiled a 305-305 mark over his five seasons in Toronto with the best record coming in 2006 when his club went 87-75 and finished in second place in the American League East.
Toronto was forced to begin searching for a new manager after the season when Farrell asked the club for permission to go after his "dream job" in Boston. Farrell's decision appeared to catch the organization off-guard even though he made a similar request following the 2011 season but was ultimately denied a chance to leave.
Anthopoulos vowed at the time the search wouldn't drag on like it did in 2010 when Farrell was hired on Oct. 25. But the search for a manager did hit a bit of a road bump because of Anthopoulos' busy start to the offseason.
The 35-year-old Anthopoulos orchestrated a massive trade with Miami by which he acquired Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck. Anthopoulos also managed to put the finishing touches on a pair of multiyear contracts for infielder Maicer Izturis and left fielder Melky Cabrera, both free agents.
The series of moves means the Blue Jays essentially turned over almost a quarter of their 25-man roster in just over a week. The additions have provided the club with a noticeable veteran presence for what previously had been a relatively inexperienced squad while also drastically increasing the amount of speed in the lineup.
When Anthopoulos initially began his managerial search, there appeared to be a clear-cut group of finalists. Sandy Alomar Jr. and DeMarlo Hale were expected to be in the mix after finishing as runners-up in 2010, while the likes of Tim Wallach and Matt Williams were said to be considered after having not been available the last time around.
But as the days turned into weeks without a manager in place, the Blue Jays' real plan became a little more clear. Anthopoulos began to talk openly for the first time about the value of having a manager with previous experience because that individual would come with fewer question marks.
Hiring a manager who has been in that role before would provide a clear image of how he handles the bullpen while also learning from past mistakes. That eventually led to Toronto being linked to the likes of Jim Tracy, Jim Riggleman and Mike Hargrove.
The club also reportedly reached out to Bobby Cox, but the veteran manager had no intention of coming out of retirement.
Gibbons' first tenure in Toronto didn't result in a spot in the postseason, but he did garner rave reviews from the players inside his clubhouse. He's firm, yet fair, in his monitoring of affairs and received a lot of praise in the past for his ability to handle a bullpen.