Canadian lefty Dawson learning to just be himself

   
  
   
  
    
  
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   Fort McMurray, Alta., native Shane Dawson, a left-handed pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, flips a ball at the Bobby Mattick Training Center in Dunedin, Fla. Photo Credit: Swapnil Thakare

Fort McMurray, Alta., native Shane Dawson, a left-handed pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, flips a ball at the Bobby Mattick Training Center in Dunedin, Fla. Photo Credit: Swapnil Thakare

By Swapnil Thakare

Toronto Observer

DUNEDIN, Fla. – Shane Dawson understands culture shock and how it works in professional baseball.

The left-handed pitcher hails from Fort McMurray, northern Alberta, and it was a challenge for him to adapt to a new environment and new languages.

“In my first year I found it really hard,” said Dawson, leaning on a fence at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. “I came from a really small town. You have to adapt new things.

“I made adjustments too. I was in the group of players who mostly speak Spanish. There were very less people who knew English.”

There were players who played from the same city or were from the same college and Dawson used to feel left out. A key was to loosen up, and just be himself.

“Apparently, it’s the game which matters and not other things,” Dawson said of the process. “You have to identify your role in the organization and close the game for the team.”

Dawson transitioned well and has now settled himself in.

He was drafted in 2012, and since then he has played 112 games, starting in 86 of them. He played for the double- A New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the 2017 season, where he posted a 6.16 ERA.

The young Canadian has already seen a lot of life.

Dawson’s town didn’t have any facilities so he used to travel for more than an hour every day for practice and games with his father, Shane Dawson Sr.

“My dad used to coach me. There was far less exposure and facilities to the sport,” he said.

He moved to Drayton Valley, Alta., where he had been born, to play for the Spruce Grove White Sox,  and then on to the Prairie Academy, in Lethbridge, before being drafted.