* RHP Shawn Hill has movement on his sinker -- too much in last outing before facing Italy in Team Canada opener. .... ELSEWHERE .... ADAM McCALVY -- Henderson, Axford close out win for Canada .... TYLER HARPER -- Saunders, Albers help Canada edge Milwaukee .... ALEXIS (WELCOME BACK) BRUDNICKI -- Morneau understands Baseball Canada loyalty .... TOM MALONEY -- Martin defends his decision not to play in WBC .... LHP Derek Holland will start for Team USA vs. Canada .... Doug Melvin, Brewers GM, understans WBC concept .... KEVIN GLEW -- Malo can and will play anywhere for Canada .... CRAIG SLATER -- Saskatchewan boys, Albers and Molleken ready for WBC .... TYLER HARPER -- Canada’s next star: Gillies, says Lawrie .... TYLER KILLIAN -- Team USA 1B Teixeira out of the WBC after with strained wrist .... SHI DAVIDI -- Votto’s decision gives Team Canada boost .... ALEXIS BRUDNICKI -- Dual citizen Taillon honoured to pitch for Canada .... PRINCE HAL McCOY, former Spink winner -- Reds 3B coach Berry takes drama and out of Votto’s announcement .... DAVE VAN DYCK -- White Sox RP Jesse Crain (Toronto, Ont.) scratched from WBC ....
By Bob Elliott
MARYVALE, Az. -- Right-hander Shawn Hill is being asked to get Canada off on the right foot Friday afternoon against Italy.
Therefore he is their best starter.
Right-hander Chris Leroux starts Saturday against Mexico and Jameson Taillon will face Team USA.
Hill worked the fifth inning Tuesday afternoon against the Milwaukee Brewers and allowed a run on two walks and a hit batter.
In six innings this spring Hill has allowed 10 hits and three earned runs, while walking six and striking out four.
“Physically I’m pretty close, right now I’m struggling to get a feel for my sinker right now,” said Hill. “The pitch has plenty of movement and my off speed pitches are fine.”
Does Hill, 31, feel any pressure being asked to go out and put up some zeros against Italy in the WBC opener to get Canada off to a good start in a must-win situation.
“Nothing compares with starting against Cuba in the 2004 Olympics semi-final due to both the situation and how young I was at the time,” said Hill, who left that game with the lead. “I want to do what I’m capable of doing ... going out and throwing strikes.”
The pitch-count limit for the first round of the WBC is 65, however, if a starter goes over 50 it means he needs four days of rest.
No one knows if Canada will advance but it has to plan as if it will, so that means Hill will come out before he hits 50 pitches. If Canada advances he would not be able to start the second round opener Tuesday in Miami.
“It’s the same for every team,” said Hill, who will likely be followed to the mound by Scott Mathieson, who pitched 1 1/3 innings scoreless against the Brewers.
This spring Hill, had three outings for the Detroit Tigers: allowing three runs on two hits and three walks against the Blue Jays; one earned run in 1 1/3 innings giving up a homer to Houston Astro Brent Wallace and five hits and one earned run in 2 2/3 innings against the New York Yankees.
Get out the pitch counter ready.
If Hill gets to 51 pitches it could be pitching coach Denis Boucher asked to start Tuesday -- if Canada advances.
Flying High: The Canadian Goose is in full flight.
But where did Scott Mathieson pick up his nickname?
Mathieson was rooming with Cole Hamels, the Philadelphia Phillies first round pick, second rounder Zack Segovia and fifth rounder Jake Blalock in 2002. The foursome split gas costs and living expenses in Clearwater.
Hamels was golfing when his club -- borrowed from an older player -- slipped out of his hand and wound up in a pond.
“Hamels said he’d pay for my gas if I went in and got it,” said Mathieson. “I’m a dumb teenager, what the heck. I told him to buy me goggles and I’d do it.”
So into the stagnant water Mathieson jumped wearing his Phillies shorts and pink Barbie goggles purchased by Hamels.
“I found three clubs and a bunch of golf balls before I found his,” recalled Mathieson who rose out of the water hazard triumphantly ... only to see Phillies minor-league instructor Bill Dancy and other coaches on the tee.
The minor leaguers ran for cover, especially since they’d been told not to wear Phillies grab out and about.
“Next day, Dancy gathers everyone in the clubhouse, tells the story and the punch line is ‘suddenly we see this Canadian Goose coming out of the pond.’ The nickname stuck after that.”
Mathieson went back and posed for pictures beside a sign which read Warning: Alligators.
“I hadn’t seen that and didn’t know about water moccasins,” he said.
Scout Jim Fregosi, Jr. travelled to see Mathieson pitch for the Langley Blaze before the Phillies made him a 17th round selection.
“What a great kid, he was working part time at Subway and gave me cards for free subs,” said Fregosi.
That would get Mathieson in trouble had he worked for the dean of Mississauga Subways, Greg Cranker.
Now, Mathieson pitches for Canada and Yomiuri Giants, champs of the Japanese League.
What catching worries? The Russell Martin worries were stilled somewhat Tuesday afternoon.
Catcher Chris Robinson threw out Brewers Norichka Aoki and Josh Prince attempting to steal third base, after both had stolen second.
Jameson Taillon was on the mound and appreciated the help.
Taillon worked two scoreless and then allowed two runs to the Brewers in the third.
“I got the first guy and then they kind of strong some hits together,” said Taillon, who is battling a cold.
How strange was his first outing in a Canadian uniform?
“The game is the same,” said the former MVP of the Team USA junior Pan-Am gold medal winning team. Taillon’s mother, Christie is from the Lawrence Park area Toronto, while his father, Mike, is from St. Andrews, Ont. and currently works in Calgary.
“Most interesting guy I’ve met since I’ve joined the team? Probably Robinson.”
Robinson wore a Sidney Crosby jersey to Team Canada’s workout on Monday.
Hockey Canada retweeted the pic and the minor-league catcher was genuinely excited to his total amount of followers at (@robbie_30) “jump from 150 to over 200.”
Figuring he meant 150,000 to 200,000, I looked up Robinson’s twitter page.
He had climbed to 212.
Ok, I’m No. 213.
Brew Crew Hosers: The back-end of the Brewers bullpen walked by the front end of the Milwaukee first base dugout Tuesday afternoon.
“Jimmy Henderson and I were together,” said John Axford. “Jimmy and I looked in, gave them our best stink eye,”
When the Brewers open the season Calgary’s Henderson is scheduled to work the eighth and Axford of Port Dover, Ont. the ninth.
Axford, who worked a 1-2-3-4-5 ninth for the save was asked if any of his teammates looked up and smiled before digging in?
“I didn’t look in at anyone, I never look at faces, only the (catcher’s) fingers for the signs,” said Axford, who said after the game Scooter Gennett wished him “good luck” in the WBC which Canada opens Friday against Italy.
Henderson had a couple of runners aboard in the eighth when he was saved by Adam Loewen speared a long drive on the warning track robbing extra bases.
“It reminded me of the catch Adam Stern made in centre in 2006 off Chase Utley’s short of the wall,” said coach Stubby Clapp when Canada edged Team USA 8-6.
Car!!! The charter bus pulled onto the Scottsdale stret and it was obvious ... this was wrong place.
One street over the bus turned down another cul-de-sac and there were a pair of hockey nets baking in the Arizona desert at the Morneau Coliseum, which in a lot of places resembles the lunar surface.
Sides were chosen, Justin Morneau picking one team, Peter Orr selecting for the other team.
All the players from the west were with Morneau, while the majority of the players from the East were with Orr’s team.
Morneau’s Skins, also known as Team West (Vancouver Canucks) defeated Team East (Toronto Maple Leafs) 3-2 in a best-of-five series. After the game and a bar-b-que, Hockey Night in Scottsdale continued as players watched the Toronto Maple Leafs win on TV ... pleasing Orr and displeasing Morneau.
Yet, despite all the talented sluggers on Team Canada, the guy with the best hockey genes was Chicago Cubs minor leaguer Trevor Gretzky.
A day later they were still re-counting the Three Star selections: It was either Tyson Gillies, goalie Stubby Clapp and No. 4 ... Orr, or Clapp, three-goal scorer Adam Loewen and Greg Hamilton.