TORONTO -- Rays ace Chris Archer visited members of Toronto RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) prior to Wednesday night's series finale between the Rays and Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
"I'm just happy to use my platform to help people," said Archer, who earned the win for the Rays on Tuesday night. "People are willing to listen to athletes. I just take advantage of that opportunity."
The RBI kids got an extra surprise on Wednesday when Archer was joined by Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, who's Archer's friend and is also involved in the RBI program. The pitchers' entrance brought a lot of giggling and, most of all, smiles.
Count Archer among those who considered the visit a success.
"Totally, for sure," Archer said. "It's just my time -- a donation of my time, 30 minutes or an hour -- and it goes a long way. ... I usually just suggest what I want to do, and [the Rays] set it up."
Archer allowed that it has been humbling to have an audience interested in what he has to say.
"That's why I like to take advantage of it," Archer said. "I recognize that people are open. I'm grateful for it. Honestly, it helps me be a better person, too. Because I can't be a hypocrite.
"I can't go over here and tell these kids to make the right decisions in life and then be a low-life myself. When I step out of the house, I definitely want to represent my parents, Ron and Donna Archer, but at the same time, I want to represent the kids I speak to as well. And not just be a voice, but be an example."
Speaking of examples, Archer proudly referenced Stroman, who recently earned a sociology degree from Duke University. Stroman attended graduation ceremonies on Sunday.
Archer stressed to the kids that they should be passionate and that an education trumps all in their development, as an education can help take them far in life.
Archer first met the Toronto group last season, when he visited the RBI facility. In April, Archer and teammate Steven Souza Jr. visited the Harlem RBI charter school.
Since last season, Archer has also visited with the RBI leagues in Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia and Arlington, in addition to Tampa, Fla., and Bradenton, Fla.
Archer and Stroman both have magnetic personalities, especially in front of a young audience. Archer said that speaking in front of said audiences comes easy to him and he doesn't prepare -- for a reason.
"It's genuine, it's from the heart," Archer said. "It's not rehearsed or premeditated. And even if the message isn't 100 percent perfect, as far as my grammar or how I punctuate things, people respect it more, I think, because it's straight from the heart."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.