TORONTO — 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 (at)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 National 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," he added.