By Amanda Fewer
Canadian Baseball Network
Canada is one of the largest countries in the world and home to over 35 million people.
What could possibly unite the nation that massive? We know politics and religion often fail to do so, leaving us to look to sports to save the day. We were all one united nation in 2010 when Sidney Crosby raised his hands after lifting Canada to Olympic gold. What a moment. But over the last two years, the uniting force for Canada has been the Toronto Blue Jays.
From trade deadline deals to the "Bat Flip" to the "Bat Drop" and all the amazing plays in between, the Blue Jays have given fans across this great nation plenty to cheer for.
One of the events that gets fans cheering is the Winter Tour, visiting Edmonton, Alberta where fans were lined up to meet a few of their favorite Blue Jays players. Attending the event this year were 2017 All-Stars Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada, along with Kevin Pillar and Devon Travis.
If you are watching an away game it’s hard to miss all the Jays jerseys filling the seats and drowning out the home team’s crowd with a thunderous "Go Jays, Go chant". This does not elude the players.
“It doesn’t matter where this team goes, there’s always a Jay’s fan," Estrada told reporters. " In Seattle, we’re basically the home team.”
Pillar has been on the Winter Tour the last three years and attended events across Canada including a fundraiser in Fort McMurray, Alberta that helped bring the WMBL to the city. A seasoned veteran to these events and traveling east to west and back again, he used one word to describe our country: "Incredible."
So how do they plan on filling the holes left by clutch players like Edwin Encarnacion?
Pillar says that Kendrys Morales is an underrated player. “I’m looking forward to watching that guy play,” he said.
As for Eddie’s departure and what needs to be done next?
“We all wanted him back. I don’t think anyone will be able to replace Eddie.” said Pillar. “But guys like me just need to be better”.
Before landing in Edmonton, the players participated in a Jays Care Foundation Challenger Baseball Clinic and visited Albert Community School in Regina. Saturday night they cheered on the home team as the Edmonton Oilers take on the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place after a visit to Stollery Children’s hospital. Then it’s back to Toronto for the last leg of the tour.