Chatting with Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Hector Perez

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 16: Hector Perez #64 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 16, 2020 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 16: Hector Perez #64 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 16, 2020 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Jays Journal’s Reuben Gassee had the opportunity to do an exclusive interview with Blue Jays pitcher Hector Perez.

If you remember about a month ago, I was able to interview Blue Jays minor league pitcher Mitch McKown. A month later, I was more than lucky enough to get an interview with a major league player in Hector Perez.

Perez was signed as an international free agent by the Houston Astros back in 2014. He was part of the package sent over to the Blue Jays in exchange for Roberto Osuna at the 2018 trade deadline.

In his minor league career, he went 23-18 with a 3.57 ERA over 109 games (79 starts) with 508 strikeouts, and 364 hits given up for an opponent average of .220. This season, Perez got the call to the big leagues and made his major league debut on September 16th against the New York Yankees.

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The interview

Reuben: What’s baseball like in the Dominican Republic? What is it like growing up as a baseball player?

Hector: Baseball is like a lifestyle in Dominican Republic, people love baseball so much in this country you can’t imagine how important [this] sport is for people here, there’s a lot of memories and so much passion for the game and you can see by the numbers of players who has played in the Majors from Dominican Republic.

It’s very fun grow[ing] up as a player and very fortunate to see your dream come true, for us despite with love to play the game, it like secures our family’s future. For many kids here, is baseball or nothing kids [have] to leave their house in early ages to pursue their dream and give family a better life. In my case, I used to go school and go to the field at the same time, but that’s not everybody’s case here and that’s something that many people outside this country know how much we have to sacrifice to accomplish our dream.

Reuben: What was the feeling like when you signed your first professional contract?

Hector: Words can’t describe what I felt but it’s a blessing see all the effort and the hard work [pay off] and give that first step to the professionalism and see one of your dreams come true.

Reuben: What was your feeling and reaction when you got traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, a place and a country you’ve probably never been to beforehand?

Hector: I was very excited, but at the same time sad because I had to leave the team who gave me the first opportunity and leave my teammates, but I knew I was going to a first-class organization with so much tradition and very popular in my country.

This question was built around a suggestion from Jays Journal writer David Corcoran 

Reuben: What was the non-active camp like? What kind of activities were done to keep you and the players in game shape?

Hector: It was very productive for every player who was invited to that camp. I see everyone improving what they had to improve, and the coaches made a great job. We used to practice six days a week and five simulated games a week, but hitters took many ABs (at-bats) and pitchers used to pitch two and three times a week.

Reuben: How did you find out you got called up to the big leagues? What was your reaction when you realized you were going to be a big leaguer?

Hector: I was in taxi squad and I was about to throw a live BP (batting practice) that afternoon, and one of the coaches told me that [I’m not going] to throw because the GM was going to make a decision and a hour later they call me to the manager’s office and there was the General Manager, Manager and pitching coach. The Manager gave his hand and told me “Congratulations you’ve been called to the Major Leagues”. I almost cried, and I called my grandmother (and) we cried, man that was very exciting and I’ll never forget that day.

Reuben: What was it like playing in front of no fans?

Hector: You know fans are part of the game and games are so much fun with the crowd watching us and that noise, but this is a challenging season that we have to follow many protocols, I hope next year we have fans in the stands.

Reuben: What are your goals for the 2021 season and for your career?

Hector: My goal for 2021 season is stay healthy and be consistent, earn a spot out of Spring Training and contribute to my team as much as I can.

For all the fans, thank you for the support and keep trusting on this team, we have a great team and young players who could impact in the next couple years.

Next. Five free agents least likely to sign in Toronto. dark

I wish Hector Perez the best of luck in his career and I hope that he’s part of the “young players who could impact in the next couple years” as he said.