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Jays’ Shapiro to attend Herd home opener

TORONTO – The Buffalo Bisons’ player development contract with the Toronto Blue Jays expires after this season but most people in baseball circles expect an extension to be forthcoming. Herd officials went to spring training in Dunedin, Fla., last month to meet with Jays officials and first-year Toronto President Mark Shapiro said Friday he’s looking forward to a long run in Buffalo.

Shapiro worked with the Bisons from 1995 to 2008 while serving as farm director, assistant general manager and general manager of the Cleveland Indians. The Herd went to the playoffs nine times in that span and won three league championships, but is now in a drought that has seen the club not make the postseason since 2005.

Speaking prior to the Blue Jays’ home opener Friday against Boston in Rogers Centre, Shapiro said he will be attending the Bisons’ home opener against Rochester on Thursday at Coca-Cola Field. Shapiro was named Blue Jays president in November and Bisons General Manager Mike Buczkowski said last week that the parties have discussed an extension.

“Obviously, I have a long history there and I’m excited to go down for their home opener and be a part of that,” Shapiro said. “It was great to see ‘Bucz’ and to talk to Bob and Mindy Rich after I came here. It’s clearly a great situation for the Toronto Blue Jays and a great situation for me because I know how good that front office is, I know how great that facility is and how supportive that city is. All the reasons are there to continue that relationship.”

Under Shapiro’s leadership, the Indians had a history of announcing extensions to the affiliation on Opening Day.

The Bisons, who opened their season Friday in Pawtucket, are entering their fourth year as the Blue Jays’ top farm club. They were 68-76 last season after going 74-70 and 77-66 in their first two years with Toronto. They have finished third in the International League North in all three years.