April 2nd, 2016
Six Canadians on MLB Opening Day rosters
By Adam Morissette
OTTAWA- The 2016 Major League Baseball season is officially underway and six Canadians are scattered among the circuit’s 30 clubs.
In 2015, nine Canadians were on opening day rosters, while a total of 13 Canadians played in at least one regular season game.
A modern-day record 26 Canadians appeared in the big leagues in 2011.
Fittingly, Canada’s only Major League Baseball franchise, the Toronto Blue Jays, lead the way with two Canadians on their 25 player roster including Russell Martin (Montréal, Que.) and Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC) who both figure to play prominent roles for the club as they defend their American League East title.
Former Blue Jay, Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) was dealt in the offseason from the Oakland A’s to the Chicago White Sox where he will be the everyday second baseman for the revamped Sox who will look to challenge the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals in the American League Central.
Also joining a new club is John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) who signed with the Oakland Athletics in the offseason after spending the 2015 season with the Colorado Rockies.
One of the feel-good stories of spring training came courtesy of Jim Henderson (Calgary, Alta.) who earned a spot in the bullpen with the New York Mets as a non-roster invitee. After appearing in only 14 games with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014 due to shoulder inflammation, Henderson spent the 2015 season rehabbing his injury and in the minor leagues before becoming a free agent.
Coming off a season that saw him finish third in National League MVP voting, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) is one of the most feared and respected hitters in all of baseball. The 2010 National league MVP is entering his 10th big league season with the Reds.
Meanwhile, at triple-A are the likes of Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) and Chris Leroux (Mississauga, Ont.), Phillippe Aumont (Gatineau, Que.) and Colin Kleven (Kamloops, BC), James Paxton (Ladner, BC), Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC), Luke Carlin (Aylmer, Que.) and Dustin Molleken (Regina, Sask.), Evan Rutckyj (Windsor, Ont.), Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands, Tex.) and George Kottaras (Markham, Ont.).
One notable name missing from the list of Canadians is former American League MVP Justin Morneau of New Westminster, BC. The free agent underwent elbow surgery in December and is currently rehabbing with the hope of signing with a club this season.
Another staple on this list, Jeff Francis of Delta, BC retired following the 2015 season after an 11-year big league career.
Toronto Blue Jays - C Russell Martin (Montréal, QC)
Toronto Blue Jays – OF Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC)
Chicago White Sox - 3B Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC)
Oakland Athletics – RHP John Axford (Port Dover, ON)
New York Mets - RHP Jim Henderson (Calgary, AB)
Cincinnati Reds - 1B Joey Votto (Etobicoke, ON)