Since I fell in love with baseball I always had this curiosity about the game. I would think about the strangest things. For example, I wonder what he ate before the game? What do you do when you have to pee and you’re out on the field and the inning lasts forever? Sure, those were pretty adolescent thoughts, but now I am an adult — well, kinda — and I still have that same level of curiosity.
One of the things I am always curious about is what a player feels when he is traded? For you and I, we don’t worry about our employer trading us to another company thousands of miles away. It just doesn’t happen.
Pillar was drafted by the Jays, played his way through the Jays farm system and has played his entire seven-year career in Toronto for the Blue Jays — until last week, that is — when he was sent from Canada to California.
You could tell the news of the trade hit Pillar hard. In his first interview after the story broke, Pillar said:
“It’s all I’ve ever known. You spend a lot of time here, more time here than you do in your home in the offseason. I spend more time with people here than I do with my own family. That part of it is hard. It is a difficult thing to go through, especially for the first time. Having only played in one place and being extremely comfortable there and my family being comfortable there, yeah, I think I had to answer a lot of questions when I was there.”
Kevin Pillar gets emotional after trade from the #BlueJays 😢
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) April 2, 2019
In a post on Instagram Pillar wrote:
I don’t know where to start but the last couple days have been some of the most difficult and challenging days of my career. After trying to get myself and family settled in a new city and organization, I have finally had a chance to process my feelings … Thank you isn’t enough Toronto. I gave you my heart and you gave me yours back. I was just a California kid who always had a dream of playing in the big leagues. Never in my wildest dreams would I be playing 3,000 miles away from home in a different country … To the staff, trainers, stadium employees, clubhouse staff: thank you for your constant love and support and always making me and my family feel like family. You all touched my heart in a way that I will never forget. To my teammates: thank you for the most unbelievable ride. We had some challenging years but we also had some pretty magical and incredible years. Despite the ups and downs of a season, you guys were the ones who made me want to play as hard as I could every single day, regardless of the score. To the fans: Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have been the most incredible, honest, passionate fans from coast to coast. You will always have a special place in my heart and for that, I can’t thank you enough.
As fans, we don’t often see this side of trade. Families being uprooted. Saying goodbye. Leaving behind friends. Changing your kids schools. Selling your home. Relocating. Learning a new city. Making new friends. None of these things by choice, of course.
Baseball is a great game, a dream job for those who play professionally. Yes, they get paid above and beyond what anyone should to play a kids game. But there are sacrifices too. Being traded is one of those.