* Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.), Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, Ont.), Darren Shred (Brampton, Ont.), Jean-Francois Garon (Terrebonne, Que.) and Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) arrived at the Rogers Centre late and tired … and then they got to work at Tournament 12. Photo: Alexis Brudnicki. ….
Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
Join Team Canada and see the world.
Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) arrived at the Rogers Centre Thursday morning two days late.
No one made the Mississauga slugger do laps.
Naylor. four Tournament 12 bound players and the rest of the Canadian Junior National Team was supposed to return home from Monday but they were trapped due to the devastation by category four Hurricane Odile which arrived Sunday night, hours after Canada won bronze at the Pan Ams 18U championship at La Paz, Mex.
“We heard it on the radio on the way to the park that the hurricane was coming,” said Naylor.
They awoke Monday without power.
“We knew we’d get home eventually,” said Naylor who worked out the dust in his first at-bat by “swinging as if he was trying to hit a ball Mexico,” according to one scout.
After arriving at a military base Tuesday night Team USA and the Canucks were told a plane was not ready
Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, the Canadian delegation received word they could catch a military flight out of in the afternoon to Tijuana. Team USA and Canada were both told that the flight would be in two hours. Then it was pushed back to 6 AM, the Canadians headed to a juvenile detention centre — not exactly the destination they had hoped for.
The first flight left Wednesday with four Canucks: Mitch Robinson (Surrey, BC), Colton Wood (Victoria, BC), Robert Byckowski (Etobicoke, Ont.) and JP Stevenson (Hunter River, PEI) left behind with two Team USA players until the second flight came. Naylor said he thought the plan was to go in alphabetical order
“We signed a bunch of papers to exit the country, things went smooth at the border and we took the bus to LAX,” said Naylor.
His first meal was Burger King at LAX, well it was more like “three meals,” but his best meal was pulled pork cooked by mom JeniceNaylor at home.
“The worst was the heat,” said Demi Orimoloye (Orleans, Ont.) who had his first meal at Burger King. He arrived at the Rogers Centre along with Darren Shred (Brampton, Ont.), Jean-Francois Garon (Terrebonne, Que.) and Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.).
The gold medal-game between Team USA and Cuba was rained out with the Americans leading 1-0 after 1-0 inning. Team USA was awarded the gold as it completed the round robin play undefeated.
There were suggestions by parents to move the bronze game up to 10 AM and the gold medal game to early in the afternoon. But the junior teams, Team USA and Canada, didn’t exactly have a charter flight awaiting on a secluded airport.
The hitters will work out for scouts Friday morning. Soroka starts for Alberta Friday morn.
Garon singled for Quebec and Naylor was hitless in a 2-2 tie.
Naylor had two hits and two RBIs in an 11-6 win over the Prairies, while Ormuiloye knocked in a pair of runs.
Shred was hitless in his first game.
They’ll try to catch up on their sleep and be back at the Rogers Centre for the final two days of the tournament.
Yet we only skimmed the surface of the not-so-excellent adventure in Mexico, it’s best to read Alexis Brudnicki’s detailed report of the goings on from hotel to bus to juvenile detention centre with blood-soaked sheets to home and Adam Morissette’s eye witness report.
Past trips, vivid memories: What was your worst Team Canada trip?
Stubby Clapp (Windsor, Ont.) _ Nicaragua, 1994.
“This was two years after the revolution. Someone sabotaged the opening ceremonies. We all piled onto the yellow school buses and had a military escort back to our dorms. We’re watching a jeep in front of us, leading the convoy. The guy on a scooter won’t move over, so the jeep pulls up alongside him and the guy in the passenger side kicks the guy over. We’re sitting on the bus watching and saying ‘did that just happen?’ He gone.
“We get to the entrance where we are supposed to turn and it was like the Dukes of Hazard with tires screeching as we made the turn into the facility.”
Rob Butler (East York, Ont.) _ Cuba, 2003.
“The lights went out at the opening ceremonies. The whole city was in darkness and we didn’t have any buses. So we piled into cabs and we all put our suitcases on top of the roof. We’re driving — and you know how fast the cabs drive — with our arms out the windows holding onto our bags.”
Brooks McNevin (Terrace, BC) _ Taiwan, 2008
“I’ve never had a bad trip but I know my most exciting trip. We’re in the qualifier for the Bejing Olympics. We’re losing by a run in the eighth, Emerson Frostad hit a two-out single to right with Jimmy Van Ostrand tries to run their catcher. He’s out the catcher flipped the ball at Jimmy and then the right fielder who threw the ball, tosses it towards our dugout. Denis Boucher (pitching coach) went charging out of the dugout) at their bench. I remember pushing Steve Green out of the mess because he was pitching.
“When we came walking back the fans were throwing full beer cans at us, someone hit Green in the dugout, both he and Greg Hamilton went half way up the screen. We tied it in the ninth and won in the 10th with Mike Kusiewicz getting the save as we clinched a spot in the Athens Olympics.
“We had 30 policemen around us and usually, we had a one-car police escort back to the hotel. This night we had six. We watched the replay on TV later and their team was pretty wound up but then we started over there — Ryan Radmanovich, Nick Weglarz, Frostad, Saunders and Van Ostrand — we were so much bigger than they were. We had a few bigger guys. You could see their body language change. Later we went to eat at a restaurant and the police came and sat on the patio. It was fine the rest of the tournament.”
T.J. Burton (Ottawa, Ont.) _ Australia 2008.
“I was pitching in the Arizona Fall League and the Cleveland Indians wanted me to pitch the day I left. So I pitched on a Wednesday afternoon, flew out of Phoenix to LAX, had a five-hour layover, flew to Hong Kong, had an eight-hour layover, flew seven hours to Australia and pitched a scoreless inning against the Perth Heat before we went to Taiwan to the Olympic qualifier.
“And then I slept for two days.”
Greg O’Halloran (Mississauga, Ont. _ Windsor 1985.
“Think I had a handful of at-bats. Joe Siddall was the starting catcher. We stayed at the University of Windsor and someone on the Cuban team pulled the fire alarm. They denied doing it, but they lined every one up and looked at their hands — they didn’t know that stuff shot out of the fire alarm onto your hands when you pulled down on it.
“They sent the guy home – or at least they said they did.”
Cory Eckstein (Abbotsford, BC) _ Dominican Republic, 2011.
“They always tell you to watch what you eat when you go to Latin America. Someone is at the front of the bus singing when we pulled up to our hotel. I said ‘get out of the way’ and brushed past him. I reached the bathroom room and the maid was cleaning. I said ‘never mind, I’ll clean it myself. I was down for the count for a couple of days. Columbia in 2012 was fine … as long as you don’t mind being escorted by guys carrying semi-automatic weapons.”
Tanner Watson (Arnprior, Ont.) _ Edmonton, 1999.
“I never got off the continent. My trips were to Disney, Arizona, Thunder Bay and Edmonton.”
Guest announcer: Robbie Alomar’s good pal, cerebral palsy advocate Spencer Miller, was a guest P.A. announcer Thursday afternoon and kicked off his time at the mike with:
“I’m the good-looking one … not Robbie.”
Best hitters on the day: Ranked in order of number of scouts, recruiters and evaluators polled …
Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) Ontario Black, Ontario Blue Jays. “Every pitch he hits in batting practice is a line drive. Does he ever swing and miss?”
Zack Kunkel (Medicine Hat, Alta.) Alberta Red, Vauxhall Acadmey
Ben Komonsky (Regina, Sask.) Prairies Purple, Vauxhall Academy.
Troy Blad (Steinbach, Man.) Prairies Purple, Prairie Baseball Academy
Demi Ormiloye (Orleans, Ont.) Ontario Black, Ottawa-Nepean Canadians
Eric Senior (Toronto, Ont.) Ontario Black, Toronto Mets.
Cooper Davis (Mississauga, Ont.), Futures Navy, Ontario Blue Jays “If Greg Hamilton asks me I’d tell him to take Davis and Adam Hall (London, Ont., Futures Navy, Great Lake Canadians) and have them hit 1-2 for the Junior National Team until both graduate.”
Brett Esau (Meadow Lake, Sask.) Prairies Purple, Northwest Pairie Pirates
Miles Gordon (Oakville, Ont.) Ontario Green, Great Lake Canadians
Ryan Rijo (Barrie, Ont.) Ontario Green, Ontario Blue Jays
Elliot Curtis (Waterloo, Ont.) Ontario Green, Ontario Terriers.
Andrew Yerzy (Toronto, Ont.) Ontario Black, Toronto Mets.
Jacob Sims (Guelph, Ont.) Ontario Black, Ontario Terriers
Tony Hrynkiw (Brampton, Ont.) Ontario Green, Ontario Blue Jays.
Best arms on the day: Josh Burgmann (Nanaimo, BC) BC Orange, Vauxhall Academy 3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 Ks “Some of the guys had him at 90 MPH against Ontario Green.”
Kristan Storrie (Langley, BC) BC Orange, Langley Blaze 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. “He was impressive, the automatic 1-1 counts may have helped, but he had better control.”
Mathieu Denault Gauthier (Candiac, Que.) Quebec Blue, Patriote Rivee Sud 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 Ks. “He had excellent composure and command.”
Iscaac Anesty (Guelph, Ont.) Ontario Black, Ontario Blue Jays 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 Ks. “88 MPH.”
Austin Shields (Dundas, Ont.) Ontario Green, Stoney Creek Blue Jays “He was touching 90 at the final tryout camp in Ajax, 86 MPH today.”
Ryan Rijo (Barrie, Ont.) Ontario Green, Ontario Blue Jays to right field.
Best bolt of the day:
Troy Blad (Steinbach, Man) Prairies Purple, Prairie Baseball Academy homered into the third row of the second deck.