Manoah, Springer join Kirk, Vlad as All-Stars

July 10th, 2022

SEATTLE -- For , Sunday morning was a wide-eyed, emotional experience the 24-year-old starting pitcher will never forget. For , there was some of that, too, but there was also the feeling that this is somewhat of a common July occurrence for the veteran outfielder.

One of the first orders of business prior to the Blue Jays’ getaway game against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park was manager Charlie Montoyo informing the teammates that they had been named to the American League roster for the upcoming All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium on July 19.

They will join teammates Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alejandro Kirk, who were already voted in as AL starters. And while the Blue Jays are in the midst of a rough patch on this road trip, Sunday’s good news provided what Manoah called a “little sprinkle of sunshine” to the Toronto clubhouse.

“It’s an amazing moment, seeing yourself as an All-Star,” said Manoah, who will head to his first Midsummer Classic in his first full season in the big leagues after debuting in 2021. “Everybody wants to win a World Series, but being an All-Star is on the bucket list for a player.”

Manoah’s inclusion seemed like a foregone conclusion after the sterling first-half he’s put up. After going 7 1/3 innings and giving up two runs on three hits in Toronto’s 2-1 loss to the Mariners on Saturday night, he is 9-4 with a 2.34 ERA and he has struck out 97 batters in a team-high 107 2/3 innings over 17 starts.

Manoah, who was the 11th-overall pick by the Blue Jays in 2019, has continued to gain velocity and refine command of his fastball while turning his slider into a swing-and-miss weapon. He also features a sinker and a changeup.

He’s given Toronto 15 quality starts so far, and he didn’t allow more than two earned runs in an outing until June 2.

Manoah said he called his mother first and the two “might have shed some tears” over the accomplishment. Then, he called the rest of his family and friends, his entourage and his agent, who assured him he’ll get all the tickets he needs.

Manoah also said he plans on soaking in every minute of the experience in Los Angeles. He said he wants to meet Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols and tell them how much they meant to him when he was growing up watching them play. Manoah added he wants to go around the AL clubhouse and do some “brain-picking” of other great pitchers in the league.

Most of all, though?

“I look forward to getting on the mound,” Manoah said. “I definitely want to be on that mound.”

Springer, the wise 32-year-old sage who has been named to his fourth All-Star team -- and first as a Blue Jay after playing in his first three as a member of the Astros -- said he has no doubt that Manoah will pitch … and pitch well.

Springer also said he has no doubt that he’ll enjoy and appreciate the experience as much as he did his first three times, especially after being back to full health after dealing with knee issues last year. Springer hit a leadoff homer in Sunday’s series finale to give him 17 home runs on the season, including eight leadoff homers -- a single-season franchise record. His 51 career leadoff homers place him fourth on the all-time MLB list.

“It's exciting,” Springer said of the nod. “Obviously, that's what you work for, so it’s good to get surprised on a Sunday morning. I'll take it.”

Springer said his modus operandi when milling around the field during the Midsummer Classic festivities is to be more observer than aggressive conversationalist.

“I kind of just watch and listen and learn and just see how guys go about things,” Springer said. “When you get to sit in a locker room with guys like Aaron Judge and Mike Trout, and watch them go about their day and you know how they did things, just to see how they navigate it is pretty special.”

Springer recognized that there was a strong possibility that he navigated his way to this All-Star Game by way of votes from his peers, which he called “an honor.”

“The players play the game and understand what everyone's pulling through, the highs and the lows and all that stuff,” Springer said.

Meanwhile, Manoah said he hoped the All-Star break and the Midsummer Classic experience would be the precursor for a hot start to the second half north of the border.

“Hopefully, something like this will kind of keep us all positive and rejuvenated,” Manoah said. “Just allow us to go out there and just have some fun.”