Blue Jays' rookies must carry teddy bears

Blue Jays' rookies must carry teddy bears

BOSTON -- As the Blue Jays milled about Fenway Park's visitors' clubhouse before Monday's 11-4 loss, hip-hop music thumping in the background of light-hearted conversation, a select group of players had one peculiar addition to their lockers -- a fuzzy teddy bear.

Some were tie dye, others purple and one locker even held a little girl's doll instead of a bear. The common theme was that each belonged to a player who began the season with less than a year of Major League service time.

"Rookie stuff," second baseman Ryan Goins said. "So you have to have it everywhere with you -- everywhere. You can't be seen without it."

Goins, righty relievers Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez and Ryan Tepera and even bullpen catcher Greg Densem were among those recently tasked by the club's veterans to have their bears on hand at all times and leave them in the clubhouse during games until Sept. 20.

The penalty for losing a bear, or even forgetting to bring it with you, is a fine.

"Every year that I've been in the big leagues, typically there's a rookie dress-up trip or whatever," outfielder Chris Colabello said. "This year, I think our veteran guys of the team, [Mark] Buehrle and some of the other guys, they decided we want to be a little bit more original. They came up with this thing."

"That's the first time I've seen that," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "That's just punishing the young guys."

Colabello started the season with one year and two days of service time, so he just missed out on being a bear-keeping participant.

"I kind of lucked out," Colabello said. "But I think it's a really cool thing. It's interesting. It seems fun, and it's something I wouldn't have minded doing, honestly."

For the Blue Jays, who entered Monday with a 25-7 record since Aug. 1, life in the clubhouse has been pretty easy lately. Their stuffed-bear antics have only enhanced the fun.

"I think this would've happened if we were 30 games under .500," Colabello said. "I've said this from the beginning, this group was special in Spring Training and it's still special now. Every day I come to the park, I enjoy myself. I love being around these guys. This is just one more thing that adds to everybody enjoying each other's company."

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.