By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
Now if you are a high school player watching the drip-drip-drip exodus of Canadians atop the Blue Jays mast head on BlueJays.com there might be reason for worry.
Gone from a year ago under chairman Edward Rogers’ name are president Paul Beeston, senior vice president of business operations Stephen Brooks and general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
So what chance do such events as the highly popular Tournament 12, bringing players from coast to coast to the Rogers Centre, the cross-Canada clinics and the Blue Jays Academy, have of surviving?
Beeston and Brooks were big-time supporters of amateur ball from Baseball Canada to heavy involvement with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the grass roots level, while Anthpoulos got his start scouting Canada at the World Juniors in Sherbrooke in 2002 for the Montreal Expos.
“My support of youth baseball is not wavering,” new president Mark Shapiro said in the Blue Jays clubhouse before the Jays played the New York Yankees Wednesday night. “I see the importance of Tournament 12. I support it and have committed to it.”
No less than 750 high schoolers have signed up for the next month’s series of tryouts at the Rogers Centre.
Shapiro said the Honda camps will continue across Canada this summer and are in fact “growing.”
T.J. Burton of Ottawa, former Cleveland Indians farmhand (2002-10), and coordinator, amateur baseball, will oversee matters moving forward, replacing the departed Rob Jack.
Assistant GM Andrew Tinnish is the highest-ranking Canadian on the baseball side of the Jays operation. The former scouting director (hello Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez) is now scouting in Venezuela.
Seven Canadian vice presidents remain on the business side: Mario Coutinho, stadium operations and security, Jason Diplock, sales and service; Mark Ditmars, corporate partnerships; Kelly Keyes, building services; Matthew Shuber, business affairs and legal counsel, Jay Stenhouse, communications and Anthony Partipilo, marketing and merchandising.
Sebastian Garcia, meanwhile, is on loan to the Jays answering questions sent the way of the presidential office.
NICK NAME GAME: As former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge roams around the Bobby Mattick Training Center at Dunedin evaluating the minor league operation and player development he has picked up a nickname from coaches and long-time employees worried about the future: The Grim Reaper.
BATTING FOR OUR MR. BROOKS: Replacing Brooks when he leaves April 22, will be Andrew Miller of the Indians, whose title was senior vice president, strategy and business analytics with Cleveland. The Indians drew 1.388 million fans last season averaging 17,361 fans, 29th in the majors. The Jays were eighth in attendance drawing 2,794,891 an average of 34,505 per game.
KIDS WATCHING CHAVEZ: Each time reliever Jesse Chavez takes the mound he carries the names of his three girls with him. On the thumb of his glove is written “DR. Cristevee” for his three girls: Danni Rae, one year old, Criste, 12 and Stevee, six.
INCOMING: Reliever Pat Venditte flew into Pearson Wednesday from Syracuse to provide help against the Yankees left-handed hitters. Venditte had fanned five of six hitters he faced -- all right-handed -- on the weekend when the Jays affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons were taking a pair against Pawtucket. Venditte struck out five of six hitters he faced. Arnold Leon was placed on waivers. Manager John Gibbons remembers former New York Mets outfielder Lee Mazzilli, who helped the Jays rally from a 12-24 start to catch the Baltimore Orioles and win the AL East, being able to throw with both hands.
SLOW START: The Jays lone lefty -- since Franklin Morales (left shoulder fatigue) and Aaron Loup (strained flexor tendon, left elbow) are both on the disabled list -- is Brett Cecil. Cecil is 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA in four games. He allowed three runs on five hits and one walk in 2 2/3 innings. A year ago the Jays opened the season at Yankee Stadium with Cecil as their closer. After one bad outing in the second game of the season he lost his job to rookie Miguel Castro, who eventually lost the closing duties to Roberto Osuna.
“The only way for (Cecil) to improve is to go back to him,” Gibbons told reporters. “You can’t jump ship on the guy, he’s a key guy.”
Cecil was the Jays most reliable reliever last season reeling off 37 scoreless outings as he went 4-1 with four holds in 31 2/3 innings walking four and striking out 44, while holding opponents to a .153 batting average