Boardroom speaks with the Toronto Blue Jays ace about his team’s ongoing ascension, playing clubhouse pranks, and the all-time slugger he’d most like to strike out.
The size of a defensive lineman with confidence and personality to match, Toronto Blue Jays ace Alek Manoah has taken baseball by storm since he made his MLB debut last year. Drafted No. 11 overall in 2019 out of West Virginia University, the Homestead, Florida native was rocking a belted gray suit with a chain depicting his Alek Manoah 6 logo, a Rolex on his wrist, initials on his cuff, Off-White Air Force 1s, and a Cuban link chain.
“We got the Cuban, because Miami, Cuban,” he said. “Gotta have it.”
The 6-foot-6, 24-year-old star is 11-5 with a 2.43 ERA this season, earning his first All-Star nod after a rookie season in which he went 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 20 starts over 111 2/3 innings. Manoah chatted with Boardroom about Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s pranks, maturing as a pitcher, and why he’d want to face Barry Bonds in his prime.
What’s the team camaraderie like in Toronto right now?
It’s amazing, man. We’ve got a lot of young talent. We’ve got some good veteran guys in there. We’ve just got a really good mix of guys that love playing with each other every day and love working hard and chasing that dream.
I heard Vladimir Guerrero Jr. likes to play pranks on people. Have you experienced that?
[Laughs] He gets [Lourdes] Gurriel pretty good. He always messes with his hair. He really doesn’t like when people mess with his hair. He’s always throwing seeds in his hair, water, whatever the case may be.
What has it been like maturing as a pitcher and growing into the success you’re having?
It’s been amazing, man. It’s been a long journey from high school and college through the COVID year and all that stuff. It’s been a lot of hard work and we’re just blessed to be here every day with the opportunity to show how good I can be.
What’s your favorite road city?
I love New York. Going over and playing in New York, the food and the diversity in the city, I feel like it’s pretty cool.
If you were Commissioner for one day, what would you change about the game?
I don’t know. I’m glad I’m not the Commissioner.
What would you be doing if not for baseball?
I’d probably be an ESPN analyst or talking about baseball somewhere, coaching kids, something.
Who’s the most underrated player not on your own team?
I’ll go with Ji-Man Choi. I think he’s pretty good.
If you could strike out one hitter right now, who would it be?
Barry Bonds. He was just always my favorite player growing up, obviously the best hitter of all time, hit home runs all the time. I’d just want to see what it would be like to face him.