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New third baseman Josh Donaldson looks forward to showing the Jays some love

02/24/2015 01:57 EST | Updated 04/26/2015 05:59 EDT
DUNEDIN, Fla. - Josh Donaldson remembers coming into the Oakland locker-room after hitting his first big-league home run in 2010 as a rookie against the Blue Jays.

Nobody said anything to him about the homer — his first major-league hit.

Now Toronto's third baseman, Donaldson plans to celebrate his new teammates' successes. In a game where failing seven times out of 10 at the plate is considered very good, the 29-year-old all-star says there's plenty of room for positives.

"You win a game, a guy has a big hit, hey I'm going to be the first one to come to up and give you some love and make sure that you know we appreciate that," he said Tuesday. "And that we appreciate you and what you've done."

Donaldson, traded in November for third baseman Brett Lawrie, pitchers Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman and minor league shortstop Franklin Barreto, is more than a rah-rah guy. He seems comfortable in his own skin and aware that if those around him succeed, he prospers too.

He says he learned from veteran Jonny Gomes that it helps having people around you who show they care.

"Because baseball's a tough game and it can definitely make you crazy," Donaldson said. "So you need those guys that ... when you're not feeling your best, are going to make you believe that you're probably better than what you're feeling at the time."

Donaldson's drive and positivity are already prized by Toronto.

"He's a go-getter, he's high energy," said manager John Gibbons.

"You love the guys who bring energy," he added. "Baseball, you're playing it every day. These guys get worn down and you don't want a bunch of dead-asses. You need some guys that have got some spunk."

Donaldson, eighth in AL MVP voting last season and fourth the year before, has reason to appreciate his lot. A late bloomer with 539 minor-league games on his resume, he brings some maturity to the ball park.

Donaldson, who hit .255 with 29 home runs and 98 RBIs in 158 games last season, showed that in answering questions about his recent salary arbitration loss.

His camp had asked for US$5.75 million but instead got $4.3 million.

"I felt like I was winning no matter what," said Donaldson, who made the minimum of $500,000 the last two years.

In just two days, Donaldson is already making a mark with the Jays. He's chatting up teammates from the morning stretch on.

"I try to bring energy and I try to have fun," he said. '"We're all adult men here but at the same time we're playing a kid's game. So I think there needs to be a time to have fun and to be yourself and let your personality show."

But again he has his eye on the prize.

"Ultimately you have the most fun when you're winning games and I believe we have the team that can do that."

GM Alex Anthopoulos, meanwhile, revealed Tuesday that perseverance played a big part in prying Donaldson loose from Oakland counterpart Billy Beane.

Anthopoulos said he was turned down repeatedly before bringing Lawrie into the talks, knowing that while Beane wanted to improve his team for a playoff run he didn't want to leave a void at third base.

"We weren't looking to trade Brett Lawrie but it wasn't getting anywhere in trying to get Donaldson," he said of the talks. "Once I introduced Lawrie to fill that hole for him, then he seemed a little more open-minded and we took it from there."

Anthopoulos said the original plan was to acquire Donaldson to play third and move Lawrie to second.

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