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Former pitching coach weighs in on Blue Jays' chances during Olds talk

Olds resident Bruce Walton, who spent 18 years as a bullpen coach and pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays, thinks the Jays have the core to contend for the World Series for three or four more years
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Former Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton was the guest speaker during the Olds High School Spartan football banquet held last month.

OLDS — An Olds resident who spent 18 years as a bullpen coach and pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays thinks the Jays have the core to contend for the World Series for three or four more years. 

After that, age and various expiring contracts might force changes to that lineup. 

“I think the Blue Jays are going to be strong. I think they’ve got a young nucleus. I think that their window is still three or four more years to win it,” Bruce Walton said during an interview with the Albertan. 

During his years in Toronto, Walton coached three Cy Young award-winning pitchers: Roy Halladay, Pat Hentgen and Chris Carpenter. 

He now works for the Miami Marlins, developing players in the minor leagues. 

Walton, born in Bakersfield, California now lives in Olds. He was the guest speaker during the École Olds High School Spartans football team awards banquet, held Nov. 17 in the school’s commons area. 

Walton met his wife in Medicine Hat during his first coaching job with the Medicine Hat Blue Jays in the 1990s. They lived in Calgary for several years before moving to Olds. 

Walton said he was surprised at how the 2022 season ended for the Blue Jays. 

They lost a wild card series to the Seattle Mariners (2-0) in early October. They were up 8-1 at one point in Game 2 but ultimately lost 10-9. 

“It is disappointing for them. I thought they would – I expected a better start out of them in the long run,” he said. 

As a player in the Pacific Coast League, the teams Walton played on often came up to Alberta to play the Calgary Cannons and Edmonton Trappers when they existed. 

Walton was asked what he thought of the Teoscar Hernandez trade, undertaken a few weeks ago. 

The Jays dealt Hernandez, 30, an award-winning slugger for two pitchers: right-hander Erik Swanson and left-hander Adam Macko, who was born in Slovakia but lived recently in Stony Plain.  

Swanson, 29, from Fargo, N.D., pitched in 57 games for the Mariners this past season, posting a 3-2 record and a 1.68 earned-run average (ERA). 

Macko got in eight starts for advanced-A Everett in 2022 this past season. He obtained 60 strikeouts in 38.1 innings and posted an ERA of 3.99. 

He was ranked as high as No. 8 in the Mariners’ organization but was placed on the injured list on June 3, and never made it back to the mound. 

“He’s a real prospect," Walton said. “And left-handed pitching is nice to acquire. Pitching in general is nice to acquire.” 

Looking back, Walton thought Jays Manager Cito Gaston was treated unfairly by major league baseball. 

"Cito had a great – just an unbelievable run in Toronto,” he said.  

“I mean, to win back-to-back World Series (in 1992 and 1993), to take the team over and take it from the '80s into the '90s and get better and better every year, I thought he did a fabulous job,” he said. 

Walton said Gaston should have been named Manager of the Year for that accomplishment. 

“But we kind of knew that in Toronto,” he said. “I spent almost my whole career in Toronto. The U.S. didn’t want us winning the World Series and they didn’t want our manager winning Manager of the Year. 

“And we always felt like we didn't get the calls, going into New York and Boston, you know. We felt that, ‘Canadian team,’ you know?”