TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays have their fair share of video game cover boys.
On one side of the clubhouse is reigning American League MVP Josh Donaldson, who is the face of “MLB 16 The Show.” On the other is pitcher Marcus Stroman, the cover boy for “R.B.I. Baseball 16.”
Catcher Russell Martin was the Canadian cover athlete for “MLB 15 The Show,” following the footsteps of outfielder Jose Bautista (2012 and ’13). Former Jay infielder Brett Lawrie, now with the Chicago White Sox, was on the Canadian cover in 2014.
“I think it just says something about our team,” said Donaldson. “We have a lot of guys who A) are pretty good at what they do and B) some guys have some personality and are willing to do these kind of things.”
It helps that “MLB The Show” has a Canadian edition — and that “R.B.I. Baseball” is back after a hiatus and is also sporting a Canadian cover this year. But Donaldson is the face of “MLB 16 The Show” on both sides of the border thanks to a remarkable 2015 season that saw the 30-year-old from Pensacola, Fla., hit .297 with 41 home runs and 123 RBIs as the Blue Jays came within two wins of making the World Series.
This season has been problematic, however. Toronto has been struggling with an uncertain offence and a dodgy bullpen. Going into play Wednesday, Donaldson had nine home runs and 21 RBIs but was hitting .186 in his last 15 games (.253 overall).
Donaldson says he grew up a gamer.
“I played a lot, very often. More so than I get the opportunity today,” he said in an interview. “Playing all sorts of games all the time.”
“Mortal Kombat” would have been good prep for Sunday’s brawl in Texas against the Rangers. But he mostly played sports games, although he recalls playing the “James Bond 007” shooter when he was a young teenager.
“I always enjoyed the baseball and football games,” he said.
Donaldson marvels at the realism in “MLB The Show,” saying it’s like watching the real thing.
“It really is,” he said. “I mean just how detailed they are. The batting stance, the fielding perspective of it, the base-running. The stadiums. It gives you a great feel for what we go through every day.”
A console occasionally shows up in the Toronto clubhouse.
Outfielder Kevin Pillar, second baseman Ryan Goins, relief pitcher Brett Cecil and Martin are also among the Jays’ gamers. Former catcher Dioner Navarro, now with the White Sox, excels at the made-in-Canada FIFA soccer game, as does Goins.
“MLB 16 The Show,” developed by Sony San Diego, is available for PlayStation 3 and 4. “R.B.I. Baseball 16,” developed by MLBAM, is available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
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