Gibbons returns as Blue Jays manager

The Toronto Blue Jays have brought back John Gibbons as manager.

Gibbons was the team's skipper for parts of five seasons from 2004-08 and had a record of 305-305. He is the third-winningest manager in franchise history, behind only Cito Gaston and Bobby Cox.

"It's really a thrill and an honor to be back," said Gibbons on Tuesday about his return. "I never would have guessed this would happen."

Toronto needed a replacement for John Farrell, who departed after two years to become Boston's new manager. Farrell led the Blue Jays to a mark of 154-170, but Gibbons will inherit a much different team with many new faces.

The Blue Jays, on Monday, completed a blockbuster trade with the Marlins -- a deal that gives them a new shortstop in Jose Reyes, two front-line pitchers in Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck and outfielder Emilio Bonifacio. The club also finalized a free-agent deal with outfielder Melky Cabrera.

"The front office has put together a legitimate, contending-type team," added Gibbons. "Now it's the manager's job and the coaching staff's job to pull it together as a team and get the most out of these guys."

Gibbons first took over as Blue Jays manager late in the 2004 season after Carlos Tosca was fired and guided the club to a 20-30 mark over the final 50 games to finish 67-94.

The Blue Jays then improved their record over the next two seasons under Gibbons, finishing at 80-82 in 2005 and ending in second place in the AL East in 2006 at 87-75. It was the first time Toronto had finished better than third place in the division since 1993 and the Jays haven't been that high in the standings since.

After tripping slightly to an 83-79 record in 2007, Gibbons was fired 74 games into the 2008 season with the team at 35-39 and was replaced by Gaston.

"Players love playing for him," said Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos on Tuesday. "They'd go through a wall for him. They respected him. He had the respect of the guys in the clubhouse."

Gibbons spent three seasons as Kansas City's bench coach and last year was the manager of San Diego's Double-A affiliate in San Antonio.