By JOSH VITALE, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Monday makes it 26 days since Andrew Toles left the Charlotte Stone Crabs for personal reasons. I spoke with Tampa Bay Rays director of minor league operations Mitch Lukevics about the outfielder’s status with the team going forward.
Here’s what he had to say:
Can you shed any additional light on why Toles has been away from the team?
“It’s personal. It’s personal. Family, personal—we respect his family and him, and certainly, like all our players, we’ll give them time to take care of personal business as they need. Because these kids are human beings like all of us. And we respect that. The human being comes first, before the baseball player. Until otherwise notified, it’s personal issues, and he’s away for those reasons.”
Does his absence have anything to do with him getting benched during a May 25 game at Bradenton?
“No, it’s personal.”
Have you spoken to him recently?
“I have not as of lately, no. We talk with the agent and stuff like that.”
Do you know when he might return to the team?
“There’s no timetable. We respect all the kids. We respect their time, we respect them, and whatever time he and his family need, that is definitely in the best interest of them and us.”
How disappointing was it to see one of the organization’s top prospects get benched for a lack of hustle?
“I think with all the players in general, including Andrew, it is disappointing. But there’s learning curves with all this. And what we demand for them — and it stems from the major league level on down — is that we expect a certain way for our players to go about their business. Running hard to first base. The professionalism that they show. So it’s disappointing, absolutely, but there is a learning curve. And when you’re learning to play every day in different environments, we have patient, to a certain extent, with that. But it’s really non-negotiable.”
Can he learn that lesson when he returns?
“Absolutely. He has wonderful ability. Like with all players, including Andrew, if they have the ability to learn with their skill set, we look forward to having a major league player one day.”
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