Brooklyn-born Palacios inspired by Robinson

April 16th, 2021

For , growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., meant dealing with some seriously harsh winters. As a result, his offseason practices took place inside a gymnasium, which happened to be right across the street from the grounds of old Ebbets Field, once the home of Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Exactly 74 years ago, Robinson debuted with the Dodgers in Brooklyn, breaking baseball’s color barrier. The achievements of one of baseball’s foremost icons are not lost on Palacios, who said he was reminded “all the time” in his youth about what Robinson fought through.

“[Coaches] kind of always brought Jackie Robinson into the mix,” the Blue Jays outfielder said. “You’ve gotta work harder, you’ve gotta be more focused because there’s gonna be a little more adversity as you’re going through these times, and you’re trying to accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish.

“ ... Seeing a man that did what he did, like, what I’m doing now is nowhere compared to what he did. He did something amazing, he’s able to stand up for a whole race of people and a whole nation of people. If you put the work in and you focus ... you can accomplish some great things in life.”

Palacios’ first Jackie Robinson Day in the Majors is made even more special by the fact it’s taking place at Kauffman Stadium, where his uncle, Rey Palacios, played for parts of three seasons.

And Rey made sure to remind his nephew of that fact earlier in the day Thursday.

“I actually got a text from him earlier,” Palacios said, “and he said, ‘Hey, take a nice look at left center so you can get a real good grasp of how hard I hit that ball that was my walk-off grand slam [vs. Boston in 1990].”

Palacios doesn’t have any home runs in the Majors yet, but he has turned in a stellar first week for Toronto, posting a 153 OPS+ in five games. He is just the third player in franchise history to reach base 10-plus times in his first five games (Bo Bichette also accomplished that feat from July 29 to August 2, 2019).

Kay debuts; Stripling to IL

The public didn’t know who’d be starting for the Blue Jays on Thursday until two hours before first pitch, but had more than a day to prepare.

Kay was informed Wednesday that he’d be activated from the alternate training site to start against the Royals, marking his first big league appearance of the year and his first start since Sept. 13, 2019.

In 35 innings over the past two seasons, Kay is 3-0 with a 5.40 ERA. He was selected in the first round of the 2016 Draft by the Mets and subsequently traded to the Blue Jays with Simeon Woods Richardson in July 2019 (for Marcus Stroman and cash).

Kay’s promotion coincided with the news that was sent to the 10-day injured list with what Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo called a mild flexor strain. Stripling, who was a late scratch from his scheduled start Wednesday, didn’t feel any better Thursday, according to Montoyo.

and were the other pitchers in consideration to make Thursday’s start.

The Blue Jays’ bullpen has been one of their greatest strengths so far with 2.28 ERA (third in Majors). But Toronto will be tested by a new rash of injuries, as was added to the 10-day IL with right ulnar neuritis (retroactive to April 14), joining Julian Merryweather and Tyler Chatwood.

In a corresponding move for Romano, reliever was recalled from the alternate site.

Reliever (back contusion) remains day to day, and he “feels better than he did yesterday,” Montoyo said.