Since the day John Gibbons arrived back on the scene as manager of the Blue Jays, he has suggested he will do his best as leader to stay out of the way and let his players play. In an opening-day 4-1 loss to Cleveland before an enthusiastic sellout crowd of 48,857, Gibbons proved to be a man of his word.

“I like the Earl Weaver style in the American League,” Gibbons said back in Dunedin, referring to the famous two-bloops-and-a-blast philosophy of the Orioles’ Hall of Fame skipper that is the ultimate example of setting the optimum lineup and simply letting them rip.

At his opening news conference in November, Gibbons, who first managed the Jays from 2004-08, agreed with an offered assessment that a good manager won’t win you games but a bad one can lose you about a half-dozen decisions over the course of 162 contests. Gibbons on this opening night was neither good nor bad. His team trailed from the top of the second on. His managerial hands were tied.

It’s a lot easier to manage and manufacture runs, to show that you are an influence in the dugout, when you’re playing ahead in the game. But in the second inning, the Jays got behind by a pair, on a single, a walk, two passed balls and a line-drive single to left. In his first attempt at catching the knuckleball when it matters in regular-season play, catcher J.P. Arencibia allowed three passed balls.

In terms of managing his starting pitching, opening night was no gauge as to what the manager’s philosophy will be. Dickey is unique in the majors and in the history of the Jays. The 38-year-old knuckleballer can’t be compared to anyone else when it comes to pitch count. Even though he throws the dancing pitch with no spin several degrees harder than most who practise the rare art form, there’s still less strain on his arm than with other starters. And even though it was his first start, Gibbons let Dickey throw 104 pitches under the dome at the Rogers Centre.

“Everybody talks about the 100-pitch limit,” Gibbons said. “That’s usually a guideline because when they start hitting that (pitch count), it usually starts. Very few guys can get into the teens. Roy Halladay was the exception. What happens too, where I really lock in on that, if they’ve had two or three long ones in a row, sometimes it’s going to catch up to you. But the game will dictate it.”