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Blue Jays’ First Base Coach Steps Away From Team After Daughter’s Death

The Blue Jays announced Sunday that first base coach Mark “Bud” Budzinski has taken a leave of absence following the death of his daughter, Julia.

Julia, the eldest daughter of Mark and his wife Monica, died Saturday at the age of 17, according to the team. Toronto general manager and EVP of baseball operations Ross Atkins offered his condolences to Mark, Monica and their children Josh and Lily in a statement released Sunday morning.

“The Budzinskis have been part of our Blue Jays family over the last four seasons. This devastating loss is felt by our entire organization and we grieve alongside Bud and his family,” Atkins said. “I have known Bud for more than 25 years and have always admired his commitment as a dad and husband first. He is loved and well-respected by our entire clubhouse and holds a special place in all our hearts.”

The Blue Jays later held a moment of silence prior to their home game against the Rays in Julia’s honor, as players and coaches from both teams lined up along the foul lines before the first pitch.

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Bullpen catcher Luis Hurtado filled in as first base coach; Hurtado also took over for Budzinski after he left the dugout along with manager Charlie Montoyo early in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

After the game, Montoyo shared his remarks on the tragic news, and the team’s response in the hours since. He also told reporters the team discussed the idea of not playing, per Sportsnet.

“Everyone in our clubhouse is thinking of Bud and I know you are too, of his wife and their children. This tragedy reminds us what’s important in life. As a father and husband myself, my heart breaks for Bud and his family,” he said, via MLB.com. “They are in our thoughts and our prayers. Thank you for your understanding. Think of Bud and his family.

“There are good men and great men. He is a great man. You could ache for anybody, but he’s a special kind of person. His family is great. The only thing I can share about what happened is that, even before he left, he wrote a note for me to read to the team. Going through that tragedy, that tells you everything about Mark Budzinski and his family.” 

Budzinski, 48, has been with Toronto since arriving in 2018 following a one-year stint  with Cleveland, where he also spent time managing in the club’s minor league system.