Blue Jays' Alek Manoah honored for defending Kirk after weight barbs
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Alek Manoah throws to a Tampa Bay Rays batter during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
The Associated Press
Published Monday, September 26, 2022 6:36PM EDT
TORONTO (AP) - Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah has been honored with a sportsmanship award for defending teammate Alejandro Kirk after the catcher was criticized online for his weight.
Manoah received a roughly $73,000 ($100,000 Canadian) sponsorship prize and immediately donated it to KidSport, a Canadian nonprofit that gives children the opportunity to participate in organized sports.
Earlier this month, Manoah reacted angrily when Montreal radio host Matthew Ross tweeted that Kirk was “embarrassing the sport” because of his weight and figure. Kirk, a first-time All-Star this season, is 5-foot-8 and 245 pounds, according to his bio on MLB.com.
Ross was responding to a video highlight of Kirk scoring from first base in a game Sept. 13 against Tampa Bay. Toronto won 7-2, splitting a doubleheader against the Rays.
Manoah, who has thrown to Kirk in all but one of his starts this season, fired back at Ross, urging him to “ step aside from the keyboard.”
“Go ahead and tell that 8 year old kid who is 10lbs over weight that he should quit now,” he wrote. “Let KIRK inspire those kids to continue to chase their dreams and chase greatness.”
Ross subsequently deleted the tweet and shut down his account before issuing a public apology for his remarks.
To recognize Manoah's actions, Dove Men+Care announced a sponsorship honoring athletes for their sportsmanship and named Manoah as the first recipient.
In a press release Monday, Dove Men+Care praised Manoah for “promoting body positive reassurance” and demonstrating “notable sportsmanship on a global stage.” The company also announced Manoah's intention to donate the prize to KidSport.
Manoah, who debuted last season, is 15-7 for the Blue Jays, who lead the AL wild-card race. His 2.31 ERA is fourth-lowest in the major leagues. Manoah has a salary of $706,200 this season.
Now in his third big league season, Kirk is batting .293 with 14 home runs and 62 RBI in 132 games.
Manoah and Kirk were both selected to the AL All-Star team for the first time this season.