Different as they might be, Joe Maddon can relate to John Gibbons.

Maddon speaks in complete sentences, and with deep thoughts; Gibbons mumbles and is comfortable poking fun at himself.

Maddon believes in changing his lineup almost minute by minute, moving his people around in sometimes unexplainable ways; Gibbons wants a set lineup most the season, no surprises.

“It calms the clubhouse,” Gibbons said.

Behind his sunglasses, Maddon looks part celebrity, part personality and absolutely in charge; Gibbons has an unevenly shaven face most spring-training days, wearing a Blue Jays top that doesn’t appear to fit properly.

Yet there’s something that connects the two. Maybe it’s because both were longshots, both were failed players, both have been around forever, mostly in lesser positions.

“I’ve always liked Gibby,” said Maddon, the two-time manager of the year, one-time World Series champion.

“I thought he did a really good job the first time around in Toronto. I’ve always been impressed with him, admired his sense of humour, and thought he ran a real good, focussed ball game.”

He made the last remark with the clear understanding that not all managers impress him.

“I think they made a good choice with him,” said Maddon. “It’s going to make this thing more difficult.”

He likes the manager: The team he’s not entirely certain about.