MLB season opens with 17 Canadians


Adam Morissette

April 1, 2013, Ottawa, ON (ISN) – The 2013 Major League Baseball season officially opens today with 17 Canadians appearing on opening day rosters including three players on the Disabled List.

Toronto Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) will open the season on the DL along with Minnesota Twins southpaw Scott Diamond (Guelph, ON) and Milwaukee Brewers 2B Taylor Green (Comox, BC).

In 2012, 23 Canadians appeared in at least one MLB game after a record 26 Canadians played in the big-leagues in 2011.

The Milwaukee Brewers lead the way with three Canadians on their roster, while the Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates have two each. The Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies each have one Canadian.

Nine of the 17 players on opening day rosters represented Canada at last month’s World Baseball Classic including OF Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC) of the Seattle Mariners who was named Pool D MVP after hitting .727 with one home run and 7 RBI’s is 3 tournament games.

With Lawrie starting the season on DL he may or may not be back in the Blue Jays line-up when fellow Canadian RHP Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, BC) comes to town as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Dempster signed a two-year deal with the Red Sox in the off-season and in January became just the fifth member inducted onto Baseball Canada’s Wall of Excellence.

Over in the AL Central 1B Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) will look to carry over his strong performance from the World Baseball Classic into the regular season with the Minnesota Twins. Morneau’s teammate with the Twins, Scott Diamond, won 12 games with the Twins in 2012, but will open the season on the DL after off-season surgery.

Staying in the AL Central, former Minnesota Twin RHP Jesse Crain (Toronto, ON) will be a member of the bullpen with the Chicago White Sox and George Kottaras (Toronto, ON) earned the back-up catcher’s job with the Kansas City Royals.

The rebuilding Houston Astros have made the move from the National League over to the American League and LHP Erik Bédard (Navan, ON) earned a spot in their starting rotation after he signed a minor-league deal in the off-season.

Similar to Bédard, OF Jason Bay (Trail, BC) signed a minor-league deal with the Seattle Mariners after 3 injury filled seasons with the New York Mets and will now be an outfielder off-the-bench in Seattle. Bay is joined on the Mariners by fellow British Columbia native and WBC slugger Michael Saunders who will be Seattle’s starting right fielder.

The National League Central features six Canadians amongst its five teams with the Milwaukee Brewers having three Canucks. Closer John Axford (Port Dover, ON) and set-up man Jim Henderson (Calgary, AB) anchor the back-end of the Brewers bullpen, while infielder Taylor Green will start the season on the DL.

RHP Chris Leroux (Mississauga, ON) started for Canada in a memorable game against Mexico at the WBC, but the right-hander will open the season in the bullpen with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Leroux will be joined on the Pirates this year by C Russell Martin (Montréal, QC) who inked a two-year deal with the Pirates in the off-season.

Cincinnati Reds 1B Joey Votto (Etobicoke, ON) is looking for a healthy season in 2013 after undergoing two knee surgeries in 2012 causing him to miss nearly two months of action. The 2010 NL MVP played for Canada at last month’s WBC and enjoyed a healthy and productive spring training with the Reds.

LHP Jeff Francis (Delta, BC) is the lone Canadian in the NL West as he will be a member of the Colorado Rockies starting rotation and RHP Phillippe Aumont (Gatineau, QC) earned a job in the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen after making his MLB debut in 2012.

Canadians in MLB – 2013

*Disabled List

Players in bold on Canada’s WBC roster

AL East

Toronto Blue Jays – *3B Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC)

Boston Red Sox – RHP Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, BC)

AL Central

Chicago White Sox- RHP Jesse Crain (Toronto, ON)

Minnesota Twins- 1B Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC); *LHP Scott Diamond (Guelph, ON)

Kansas City Royals- C George Kottaras (Toronto, ON)

AL West

Houston Astros- LHP Erik Bédard (Navan, ON)-

Seattle Mariners- OF Jason Bay (Trail, BC); OF Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC)

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies- RHP Phillippe Aumont (Gatineau, QC)

NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers- RHP John Axford (Port Dover, ON); RHP Jim Henderson (Calgary, AB); *2B Taylor Green (Comox, BC)

Cincinnati Reds- 1B Joey Votto (Etobicoke, ON)

Pittsburgh Pirates- C Russell Martin (Montréal, QC); RHP Chris Leroux (Mississauga, ON)

NL West

Colorado Rockies- LHP Jeff Francis (Delta, BC)

MLB Canadians