TORONTO -- Even though they only pitch once every five days, the starters in the Blue Jays' rotation lead healthy and active lifestyles each day of the week.
Two of them, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, shared that message in promoting health and fitness to a class of fourth graders at Williamson Road Public School on Wednesday afternoon.
"It's important to come out here and to see all the kids and make sure that they stay active," Drabek said. "It helps to promote [living a] healthy life."
The afternoon with the hurlers and Toronto mascot Ace was highlighted by an obstacle course that included two teams running through hoops, hopping over hockey sticks, bouncing on a ball, spinning around a bat, walking a tightrope and launching a large inflatable baseball into a basket before sprinting back to the start.
Team leaders Drabek and Hutchison then faced off after showing off their hula-hooping skills -- or lack thereof. The right-handers ran the course twice, bookending the students, with Team Hutchison coming out on top in a very close finish.
"The obstacle course [was the best part about today]," Drabek said. "It was really fun to watch all the kids, and they were really energetic. There were some really funny kids in this group, too.
"I think we [won the race]. Drew will say he did. The kids might say he did. But my kids will say I did. The kids were the real winners. They did a great job today with the whole obstacle course, and it was really fun."
Before the race, the pitchers explained what they do on days they aren't taking the hill, and how they maintain their fitness. The students also had a chance to ask the pitchers what subjects they enjoyed most when they were in school.
"I liked science and P.E., definitely," Hutchison said. "I liked playing dodgeball in PE, so that and science were my favourites."
Drabek "always loved math and gym," to which he received a chorus of boos from the students, who pronounced that no one loves math.
Quickly backpedalling, Drabek added, "And recess. Recess was my favourite. Art, too. I used to love to draw. I still draw, but not as much as I did in school."
The biggest attraction for the students was Ace, who was mauled by the children as they asked questions, and sought autographs and high-fives.
"Ace is no doubt the favourite here," Hutchison said. "Look at him. He's a rock star."
Said Drabek: "We can't compete with him."
But the audience was, indeed, captivated by Drabek and Hutchison, and most impressed when hearing how old Drabek was when he began playing baseball.
"I started playing probably when I was five," Drabek said. "My dad [Doug] played in the Major Leagues, so he was able to teach me everything, and I've learned everything from him. So about when I was five, I knew that it was something I really wanted to do, and then in high school, I thought, 'This could really be my job, to play baseball.'"
As much fun as the kids had during their afternoon with the big leaguers, the two young right-handers appeared to enjoy their time just as much.
"It's just a lot of fun," Hutchison said. "It's fun coming out here to see the kids and to help put a smile on their faces and to talk to them about staying active. It's a lot of fun."
Alexis Brudnicki is a contributor to MLB.com.