By: Adam Morissette
OTTAWA- The 2017 Major League Baseball season is officially underway and five Canadians are scattered among the circuit’s 30 clubs.
In 2016, six 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.
Coming off two consecutive trips to the American league Championship Series, Russell Martin (Montréal, QC) returns to the Toronto Blue Jays for the third consecutive season as the starting catcher on Canada’s only major league club.
Port Dover, Ontario native John Axford return to the Oakland Athletics after inking a two-year deal with the club prior to the 2016 season, while Ladner, BC native James Paxton is firmly entrenched into the Seattle Mariners starting rotation.
Coming off his first All-Star Game appearance with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016, Victoria’s Michael Saunders signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies in the off-season in what will be his first stint with a National League club.
Perennial MVP candidate Joey Votto (Etobicoke, ON) hit over .400 in the second half of the 2016 season and finished with a .326 batting average, 29 home runs and 97 RBI to finish seventh in National League MVP voting. The 2010 NL MVP winner is entering his 11th major league season.
Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, ON) is on the 10-day disabled list to start the season after suffering a concussion playing for Canada at the World Baseball Classic in March.
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (Fountain Valley, CA) and Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands, TX) have both represented Canada in international competition due to their parents’ Canadian citizenship.
Toronto Blue Jays - C Russell Martin (Montréal, QC)
Oakland Athletics – RHP John Axford (Port Dover, ON)
Seattle Mariners – LHP James Paxton (Ladner, BC)
Philadelphia Phillies – OF Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC)
Cincinnati Reds - 1B Joey Votto (Etobicoke, ON)