"It was amazing," says the longtime slugger. "I’m going to be hearing about it for a long time."
So will the rest of the Toronto Blue Jays, who enjoyed perhaps the unlikeliest back-to-back home runs in team history when Luke Maile and Stroman went deep in Thursday night’s 9-0 whipping of the Atlanta Braves. The right-hander is only the third American League pitcher to be part of consecutive homers since interleague play began in 1997.
Stroman, who entered the night with a pivotal pinch-hit double in the 11th inning of a 6-5 win at St. Louis on April 25, earned himself some bragging rights when he took ace Julio Teheran over the wall in right field. The only other home run by a pitcher in team history is by Mark Hendrickson on June 21, 2003 at Montreal.
"These guys know I’m probably not going to shut up for a little bit in here," says Stroman. "I’ve never hit an oppo homer, even in BP, in my life. It’s just something I ran into, just out there competing."
Stroman appeared in 97 games as a position player, 83 starts, hitting two home runs while also pitching during his college days at Duke, so he’s no stranger to the batter’s box. He went 0-for-5 at the plate last season but doubled in St. Louis and after striking out in his first at-bat Thursday, took a couple of strikes, fouled off a pair of pitches and then slapped a 91 mph four-seamer 370 feet to right.
"I miss it a lot," Stroman says of playing the field. "I had a lot of fun playing the field, I still consider myself a pretty good athlete, I never consider myself just a pitcher. I feel like I can go out there and compete. It’s fun. Anytime you can get into National League games and you have the opportunity to go up there and hit, you take BP leading up to it, talking smack with all the position guys and that was for (Troy) Tulowitzki right there. I know he’s not with us, me and him talking hitting all the time more than anybody. That was for Tulo, my guy, I miss him."
Stroman makes a point of hanging around the batting cage with Tulowitzki, Bautista and Josh Donaldson, among others, and apparently has picked up a thing or two them.
"JD is my other guy," says Stroman. "He’s a big supporter of me in the box, he thinks I have a great swing and whatever he says is right. It’s exciting, hopefully get these boys back soon and then we’ll really go from there."
Notes: Blue Jays outfielder Darrell Ceciliani is poised to become the latest Blue Jays player on the disabled list after suffering a subluxation of his left shoulder – essentially a dislocation – while hitting a home run on Thursday. Asked if a DL stint would be needed, manager John Gibbons said "he’s going to have to," become the 13th Blue Jays plays to land on the DL this season. "It’s getting a little comical. You’re just kind of, ‘OK, next.’ But he smoked that ball."
Dwight Smith Jr., became the 18th different position player used by the Blue Jays this season when he made his big-league debut as Ceciliani’s replacement. The 24-year-old slashed .297/.350/.422 in 36 games at triple-A Buffalo before his promotion to cover Kevin Pillar’s two-game suspension. He walked in his first career plate appearance and finished 0-for-2. … Of note is that the Blue Jays kicked around promoting top prospect Anthony Alford from double-A New Hampshire before settling on Smith. … Tulowitzki (right hamstring) played six innings at shortstop and went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk on rehab with single-A Dunedin in a 7-1 thumping of Charlotte on Thursday. Since pushing back his activation date, the Blue Jays haven’t provided a timeframe for his return. … Francisco Liriano (shoulder) threw a side session to Russell Martin (shoulder) pre-game Thursday afternoon and both felt good.