DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Josh Donaldson's first season with the Blue Jays could not have gone much better, as he became the second player in franchise history to win the American League MVP Award and led the club to its first postseason appearance since 1993.
Following that type of performance, Donaldson felt like the organization should "take care" of him heading into his second year of arbitration. Toronto ended up doing just that by rewarding him with a two-year contract worth $28.65 million, and now the focus can return to on-field performance.
Donaldson reported to Spring Training on Thursday morning and held a lengthy scrum with reporters, touching on everything from his new contract to the dirt infield that is being installed at Rogers Centre. Here are some of the highlights:
Thoughts on the 2016 roster
"I really like the fact that all of our offense pretty much is coming back. Definitely going to miss [Ben] Revere in the leadoff spot, and he could play pretty good left field. We have some new faces on the pitching side of things. I know Jesse Chavez pretty well. I know he's going to be a completely different guy than what Toronto probably remembers from when he was here. J.A. Happ seemed like he might have figured something out towards the second half of the season, so I'm excited to see what he's going to bring to the table. A full year of [Marcus] Stroman is always nice, and I feel like the bullpen is going to be strong as well."
On being a guest star on the television show "Vikings"
"I have a few lines. It's probably not going to be until later on in the season when it airs, but I had a great time. Went to Ireland. Got to meet a lot of the cast members there. Got to dress up and become a Viking. It's something that is kind of still a little bit surreal to me. I've never been on a TV show. I'm not an actor. I never claimed to be an actor. But now I am an actor."
On the dirt infield at Rogers Centre
"I'm kind of anxious to see what it's like. I know if it's like Tampa, I'm not going to like it as much. Last year, I felt like the stuff wasn't very hard on the body, but I'm open to whatever. It's going to be an adjustment, just like anything, just like last year was an adjustment to playing on [AstroTurf] the entire time.
"For me, with the turf that we had last year, you had to make sure you maintained your calves and stuff like that, because whenever you ran your feet would kind of wiggle and it put more strain on your calves. Wherever you're playing you have to make adjustments to the field and the environment. I really love playing in the Rogers Centre, so the fact of the matter is it's not going to matter if it's an all-dirt infield, grass, whatever; as long as I can hit there, I'm fine."
On avoiding arbitration by signing a two-year deal
"It was big. Neither side, I felt like, wanted to go to arbitration. I think we were both willing to, if it had to go that route. It's a business, and at the end of the day, as a player -- especially as a player with my own beliefs -- I feel like I go out there and lay it on the line for this organization, I lay it on the line for the fans, I lay it on the line for my teammates.
"To have the season that I had last year, I wanted to feel like at the end of the day that they wanted to take care of me, that they wanted to invest in me, because I felt like I invested in this organization and did a lot for this organization in a short amount of time. I wanted to feel like what I had done in the previous season, that I was going to be taken care of for it, and I felt like they did that."
On the offense
"Well, I think I'm like the third MVP to not be intentionally walked throughout the entire season, right? So, I think that kind of speaks for itself. Guys are still pitching to me ... they're still trying to mix pitches up, changing speeds and all that, but they're trying to be more aggressive in the strike zone.
"But the fact of the matter is, you have me, then you have Jose Bautista, who hit 40 homers last year, who's hit over 50 in a season before. You have Edwin Encarnacion, who's hit over 40. ... Russell Martin, nobody really talks about Russell, who hit 26 or something like that. [Chris] Colabello, [Justin] Smoak, both of them combine for over 30. Then [Troy Tulowitzki] ... it just keeps going, you know what I mean? I wouldn't want to pitch against us. And there was a lot of guys last year that we faced who were defeated before they even threw the first pitch, and those guys made their exit pretty quick."