Toronto Blue Jays translator Hector Lebron teased reporters before outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. held his session with reporters after another remarkable outing.
"You should hear what his new nickname is, it's hot," Lebron said after Gurriel smashed two more homers in the Blue Jays 6-2 to open its four-day Canada Day weekend series at Rogers Centre against the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
Lebron then asked Gurriel in Spanish if he should divulge the nickname. The 25-year-old Cuban left fielder shook his head in disapproval, only choosing to reveal that pitcher Nick Kingham, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Rowdy Tellez each had a hand in creating the cloak-and-dagger nickname.
Whatever the mystery is, Gurriel just may be called an all-star on Sunday when MLB reveals the American and National League teams for the July 7 midseason classic in Cleveland.
Gurriel continues to make a case for himself. After smashing two homers on Wednesday and again on Friday, he became just the fourth player in Blue Jays history with back-to-back multi-home run outings. He joined Jesse Barfield (1983), Edwin Encarnacion (2014) and Josh Donaldson (2017).
Gurriel has hit 14 home runs since being promoted from the triple-A Buffalo Bisons on May 24, the most in the majors during that span. The production has his manager in Gurriel's corner when it comes to the Blue Jays representative at the all-star game.
"Okay, I'm here to make a pitch for Lourdes to go to the all-star game," manager Charlie Montoyo opened up his post-game remarks with. "Awesome. He's done great. It's been fun to watch, and he's playing well offensively and defensively."
After smashing his first homer in the sixth inning, a two-run shot, to tie the game at 2-2, Gurriel made an excellent play on Martin Maldonado's double down the left-field line. Gurriel hustled to handle the carom off the wall and hold Cheslor Cuthbert, who led off the inning with a single, on third base.
"Definitely, my defensive side has helped me (offensively)," said Gurriel, a converted middle infielder. "I'm more comfortable in the outfield and with my bats. I just feel I'm able to help the team a lot."
Gurriel shied away from the all-star talk, but his remarkable six-week run has turned heads with the opposition.
"That Gurriel kid, he's on it," Kansas City veteran starter Danny Duffy said. "He's going to be a star. He stays on everything.
"He has an approach well beyond his years. I heard he was demoted early on in the year and I just can't fathom it with the way he looks now. I'm really impressed with the kid, and I think he's got a bright future. I need to make less mistakes to him."
Duffy was cruising. He only surrendered three hits in the first five innings. Gurriel then hit a two-run blast in the sixth. Toronto designated hitter Eric Sogard smacked a solo shot in the seventh, followed by another homer from Gurriel in the eighth inning and a two-run homer from Randal Grichuck in the same inning.
Toronto starter Sean Reid-Foley was solid through his 5 1/3 innings, but reliever Daniel Hudson, who picked up the win, was even better with three strikeouts in the eighth inning.
Maldonado led the Royals with three hits, including a solo homer in the sixth inning.
Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press