Seven British Columbian’s Make the Cut

OTTAWA (ISN) – Opening Day in Major League Baseball will see thirteen Canadian baseball players on active big-league rosters when the season gets underway (in North America) this evening.

In 2011, twenty-six Canadians saw big-league action which set a modern day record.

Two teams (Mets, Brewers) have two Canadians each on their roster, while nine teams (Phillies, Cubs, Reds, Pirates, Blue Jays, Yankees, White Sox, Twins, Mariners) have one Canadian on their roster. RHP Blake Hawksworth (Vancouver, BC) of the Los Angeles Dodgers is on the 60-day disabled list with an elbow injury and RHP Chris Leroux (Mississauga, ON) of the Pittsburgh Pirates also finds himself on the 60-day disabled list with a pectoral strain.

The defending National League Central winners, the Milwaukee Brewers, boast closer John Axford (Port Dover, ON) and catcher George Kottaras (Scarborough, ON) on their roster, while the Pittsburgh Pirates, also in the NL Central, have tabbed Erik Bedard (Navan, ON) as their Opening Day starter tomorrow against Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, BC) will take the mound at Wrigley Field in Chicago tomorrow afternoon as he makes his second consecutive Opening Day start for the Cubs. Staying in the NL Central, 2010 National League MVP Joey Votto (Etobicoke, ON) of the Cincinnati Reds made headlines this week after agreeing to terms on a contract extension that will see him become one of the highest paid players in baseball.

Outfielder Jason Bay (Trail, BC) is hoping for an injury free season in his third year with the New York Mets, while Canadian born catcher Mike Nickeas (Vancouver, BC) earned the back-up catcher’s job with the club.

Pete Orr (Newmarket, ON) cracked the Philadelphia Phillies Opening Day roster and will contribute to the club in a utility role.

Moving over to the American League, the ultra competitive AL East will see catcher Russell Martin (Montréal, QC) return for his second season in the Bronx with the New York Yankees and young sensation Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) will start his first full season in the big leagues, while playing third base for the Toronto Blue Jays.

In the Central Division the Minnesota Twins have their fingers crossed that former MVP Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) can play a full and healthy season at DH/1B in 2012 and former Twin Jesse Crain (Toronto, ON) will be a key cog in the Chicago White Sox bullpen.

Mike Saunders’ (Victoria, BC) season with the Seattle Mariners has already begun as he played two regular season games at centerfield in Japan against the Oakland Athletics last week. Saunders had a single, walk and stolen base in two games against the A’s.

Stay tuned to and Baseball Canada’s Twitter page ( for updates on Canadians in the major and minor leagues throughout the 2012 season.