TORONTO — After spending time in Bulgaria as part of a NATO joint effort to combat Russian aggression in Ukraine, right-handed Blue Jays pitcher Chris Rowley isn’t at all intimidated about making his Major League start on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“They’re probably different,” Rowley said on Friday when asked to compare the stress of being on active duty with the U.S. Army and making your MLB debut.
“Maybe comparable in terms of stress level, but it’s definitely going to be a different type of stress.”
The Blue Jays called up the 26-year-old from triple-A Buffalo to fill a hole in their rotation left by the injuries to Aaron Sanchez (right middle finger) and Cesar Valdez (shoulder impingement). Francisco Liriano was traded to Houston and Joe Biagini is in Buffalo being stretched out.
Rowley split the 2017 season between double-A and triple-A. He has a combined 6-6 record in 27 appearances with a 2.29 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 106.1 innings.
The personable pitcher is certainly one of the most interesting prospects to come down the organization’s pipeline in some time.
Rowley is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) and, in fact, said he spoke with his sports information director at West Point the other day and was told that he will be the first West Point grad ever to play in the Major Leagues.
The headline in the West Point website proclaims: “Rowley Gets The Call.” West Point has produced two U.S. presidents, numerous famous generals and 76 Medal of Honor recipients, but no Major Leaguers. Until now.
“I don’t think I really understand the magnitude of it, I’m not sure I ever will, but it’s something I’m trying to digest a little bit,” Rowley said of his imminent debut. “It’s something I’ve tried to appreciate, but at the same time I have a job to do.”
Rowley was passed over in the 2013 draft, despite four solid years playing at West Point. He eventually signed with the Blue Jays as a free agent.
He didn’t play in 2014 or 2015 because of his commitments with the U.S. army. After nearly two years on active duty, he was able to obtain his release from the army.
Rowley began 2017 with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and he’s been a steady presence out of the bullpen and a spot starter when needed.
“I like to mix (things up),” he said. “I’m not somebody that’s really going to blow people away. I don’t throw firstname.lastname@example.org
Pitcher Chris Rowley will become the firstever West Point grad in the Majors when he starts today against the Pirates.
allowed Frazier to score. Josh Bell then hit a sac fly and Harrison scored. All four runs were unearned.
“The defence has had my back all year,” said Stroman, when asked about the inning. “I feel like I should have done a better job in that situation in buckling down and getting my team out of that.” Refsnyder also struck out four times. Starting catcher Russell Martin left the game in the start of the second with a left oblique strain and is likely out for a while. Manager John Gibbons said he will have an MRI on Saturday.
“Russ is a rock. He plays through bumps and bruises each and every day. He’s a definition of a warrior, he’s out there each and every day no matter what. It had to be pretty bad if Russ pulls himself out of a game,” said Stroman.