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BLUE JAYS HAVE BECOME THE NEW JAYS-BELL'S LOSS, ALL-STAR SWAP PUT NEW FACE ON A TALENTED TEAM

There will be more than endless repetitions of drills and working into shape when the Toronto Blue Jays open training camp next February.

Introductions and getting acquainted, for example.

Thursday's departure of outfielder George Bell to the Chicago Cubs guarantees that six of eight everyday positions will be manned by new players next year, after Blue Jays General Manager Pat Gillick completed an off-season housecleaning aimed at shaking up a talented club which has never lived up to its promise.

"We've come close with the same group time and again, it was time for a change," Gillick said after completing a swap of two All-Stars, first baseman Fred McGriff and shortstop Tony Fernandez to San Diego for two others, second baseman Roberto Alomar and outfielder Joe Carter.

With Bell's departure, an earlier deal with California for center fielder Devon White and the signing of free-agents Pat Tabler and Ken Dayley, the Jays will have a markedly different face next year.

The deals have been aimed to improve off-field relationships at least as much as on-field performance. Bell and departed outfielder Junior Felix have each had run-ins with other players, fans and media. Fernandez has been criticized for sullenness and questioned for taking himself out of games.

Neither Gillick nor manager Cito Gaston wished to bad-mouth any of the departing players.

"It's a speed, pitching type of club, which you need in this ballpark," Gillick said Thursday. "We wanted to improve the overall defensive ability of the club. There were just some areas we knew we were deficient in."

The changes were also designed to improve the overall defense of the club. Bell was offered a contract by Toronto on the condition he agree to DH, rather than man left field. White is considered one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, likewise Alomar at second.

The departure of McGriff opens first base up for John Olerud, who showed promise with his .265, 14-homer, 48-RBI season as a rookie. What remains to be seen is whether Olerud can replace McGriff's 35 home runs.

"We hope Joe Carter and Olerud are going to make up for some of that. Olerud is a comer, he's just going to get better and better," Gillick said. The Jays had been toying with the idea of putting Olerud in left field,

Alomar, a talented 22-year-old veteran of three full seasons will take over at second base and likely hit leadoff. Manny Lee moves from second to his more natural shortstop position and Kelly Gruber remains at third. The tandem of Pat Borders and Greg Myers stay behind the plate, the only position other than third to remain unchanged.

Carter is pencilled to move to left field, with White in center. Right field could be manned by Glenallen Hill, Mark Whiten or Rob Ducey, all products of the farm system, or by Carter with Mookie Wilson in left.

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