Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oh Canada!!

Some familiar Canadian names will be looking to make an impact in Major League Baseball, with the opening Thursday of the 2011 season.

A total of 16 players from north of the border are on opening-day rosters, led by the reigning National League most valuable player, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto of Etobicoke, Ont.

Catcher Russell Martin of Chelsea, Que., is in his first season with the New York Yankees after five seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., is hoping for a healthy season after suffering a concussion last July, as is New York Mets outfielder Jason Bay of Trail, B.C., who is starting the season on the disabled list with a rib cage injury.

On the mound, left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis of North Delta, B.C., is in his first season with the Kansas City Royals, while Erik Bedard of Navan, Ont., is looking to rebound with the Seattle Mariners after missing all of last season and most of 2009 due to shoulder surgeries.

Rich Harden of Victoria, B.C., has returned to the Oakland A's, the team that drafted him in 1999. He spent last season with the Texas Rangers.

Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, B.C., is making his third career opening day start, and his first with the Chicago Cubs.

Pitcher John Axford of Port Dover, Ont., is back as the closer with the Milwaukee Brewers, and is joined by catcher George Kottaras of Toronto.

American-Canadian infielder Mark Teahan of Redlands, California, who played for Canada at the World Baseball Classic, is teammates with pitcher Jesse Crain of Toronto with the Chicago White Sox.

Pete Orr, an infielder from Richmond Hill, Ont., is in his first season with the Philadelphia Flyers, while Mike Saunders of Victoria is an outfielder with the Mariners.

Relief pitcher Blake Hawksworth of Vancouver is in his first season with the Dodgers after two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Matt Stairs of Fredericton is in his first year with the Washington Nationals and his 19th major league season. The Nationals are the 13th team of Stairs' career, which sets an MLB record.

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