Grilli pitches in against hunger on Na­tional Grilled Cheese Day

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Ja­son Grilli was a busy man Wed­nes­day.

For the vet­eran Blue Jays re­liever, Na­tional Grilled Cheese Day re­ally is food for thought. Grilli, whose nick­name is Grilled Cheese and whose Twit­ter han­dle is @Gril­lCheese49, has man­aged to turn a sim­ple sand­wich into a force for good.

The Jays are run­ning a “Fire up the Grilli” pro­mo­tion in April — which is also Na­tional Grilled Cheese Month — with a Grilli-de­signed sand­wich on sale at Sec­tion 244 of the Rogers Cen­tre. A por­tion of the pro­ceeds go to the Jays Care Foun­da­tion.

A group of kids was treated to the sand­wiches be­fore Wed­nes­day’s game with Mil­wau­kee.

“I’m a fan of food and to be able to see kids that ben­e­fit from just hav­ing a good meal as sim­ple as a grilled cheese sand­wich, you can see some in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion,” Grilli said be­fore Wed­nes­day’s game with the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers.

“I’m pumped to team up with the Jays Care Foun­da­tion.”

So­cial me­dia in­ter­ac­tion for Na- tional Grilled Cheese Day in­cluded tweets from ac­tress Jessica Biel, for­mer UFC cham­pion Miesha (Cup­cake) Tate and Toronto Ma­jor John Tory, who also men­tioned Grilli in his tweet.

The 40-year-old Grilli is also a mem­ber of Feed­ing Amer­ica’s En­ter­tain­ment Coun­cil. The or­ga­ni­za­tion is billed as the “largest do­mes­tic hunger-re­lief or­ga­ni­za­tion” in the U.S.

“A lot of guys cre­ate their own foun­da­tions but it takes a lot of time and en­ergy to do that,” he said.

“So I just fig­ured why not team up with one that’s al­ready got things un­der wraps . . . It’s just cool. Some­thing as sim­ple as feed­ing peo­ple who may not be able to do that them­selves is just ben­e­fi­cial. And a lot stems from that.”

Grilli says his dad, for­mer pitcher Steve Grilli, is the “orig­i­nal cheese man.”

“Any time you give back (is spe­cial),” said Ja­son. “This is noth­ing to do with me. My name’s at­tached to it, the nick­name kind of goes hand in hand.

“And every­body likes a grilled cheese sand­wich every now and again.”

Grilli’s larger than life per­son­al­ity helps.

The six-foot-five 235-pounder, whose fa­cial hair re­sem­bles that of the late Mo­tor­head singer Lemmy, has be­come a fan favourite in Toronto with his fist pumps and other dis­plays on the mound.

“He pitches on emo­tion,” said man­ager John Gib­bons.

“Fans love it too. You can hear it when he comes into the game.”

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