Toronto Blue Jays pitcher takes leave from team after son was hit by car

Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Erik Swanson has temporarily left the team after his four-year-old son, Toby, was struck by a vehicle Sunday in Clearwater, Florida, manager John Schneider said Tuesday.

Toby was airlifted to a nearby hospital, Schneider added.

“Thanks to the incredible work from Clearwater first responders, Toby is on the road to recovery and is surrounded by his family,” the Blue Jays manager said in a statement.

“Erik will be away from the team for a while, family comes first. Our love, support, and prayers are with Erik, Madison, Toby, and the entire Swanson family. Out of respect for Erik and his family, we’re not going to comment further on this.”

Toby, along with the son of Blue Jays pitcher Tim Mayza, threw out the ceremonial first pitch on September 28 ahead of the team’s 6-0 win last season over the New York Yankees in Canada.

“As a dad, I have two boys who are seven and five, and it hits home,” Schneider said according to the team’s website. “Baseball is just baseball, you know? You pray. You hope for the best. Thankfully, that has been the case so far. You realize how quickly things can change. You don’t take things for granted.”

Swanson, 30, was traded to Toronto by the Seattle Mariners in November 2022.

In his first season with the Blue Jays in 2023, Swanson finished with a 4-2 record, four saves and a 2.97 ERA. He struck out 75 batters in 66 2/3 innings in 69 games.

“We’re going to continue to be there for them,” Schneider continued.

“Baseball is secondary when you’re talking about family and life. We’re going to support him. The guys have been absolutely phenomenal with him so far, and you can’t forget about players’ wives and significant others who have reached out as well. It’s been a rough couple of days, but it’s really, really nice to see the support for Erik.”

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