Marcus Stroman vividly remembers his first major-league start.
It was May 31, 2014 and the Toronto Blue Jays took a 7-0 lead over the Kansas City Royals in the first inning.
While the rookie was sitting in the dugout between frames, veteran Jose Bautista approached him.
“He comes and sits down next to me on the bench, and he tells me, ‘Stro, the only thing that messes me up as a hitter is when pitchers mess with their timing or their tempo,’” the pitcher recounted in a Players’ Tribune video that was posted to Twitter on Friday afternoon.
“He’s like, ‘We have a pretty big lead here … Try it.’ I looked at him him like he was crazy because this is my first ever big-league start.
“But it just let me know how genius he is and how much ahead of the game he was.”
The two grew to become close friends, but their time as teammates with the Blue Jays appears to have come to an end. Bautista is a free-agent following an iconic stint with the club and there’s little-to-no chance Toronto re-signs him.
It’s a loss Stroman is feeling.
“Jose Bautista was the Toronto Blue Jays for a decade,” he said. “It’s going to be weird not seeing Jose Bautista in a Blue Jays uniform.
“From Day 1 he took me under his wing.”