Five Canadians on Opening Day rosters

Right-hander John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) will be in the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen to open the season. He is one of five Canadians on major league Opening Day rosters. Photo Credit: Amanda Fewer

Right-hander John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) will be in the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen to open the season. He is one of five Canadians on major league Opening Day rosters. Photo Credit: Amanda Fewer

March 29, 2018

By Adam Morissette

Baseball Canada

OTTAWA- John Axford, Russell Martin, James Paxton, Nick Pivetta and Joey Votto make up the five Canadians on active Major League Baseball Opening Day rosters with the 2018 season set to begin on Thursday.

Five Canadians appeared on opening day rosters in 2017 while nine Canucks in total appeared in at least one big league game. A modern-day record 26 Canadians appeared in the big leagues in 2011.

Montréal’s Russell Martin is set for his fourth straight season in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform and will be joined by eight-year big league veteran John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) who earned a spot in the Jays bullpen as a minor league invite during spring training. Martin, a four-time MLB All-Star, is entering his 13th big league campaign while Axford is primed for his ninth.

Set to start the Seattle Mariners’ second game of the season, Ladner, B.C.’s James Paxton will be counted on to replicate his 2017 season that saw the southpaw go 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA over 24 starts. The 29-year-old is hoping for a healthy 2018 campaign after two disabled list stints in 2017.

Nick Pivetta represented Canada at the 2017 World Baseball Classic starting against Colombia and just six weeks later, made his MLB debut with the Philadelphia Phillies. The 23-year-old Victoria, B.C. native is now firmly entrenched in the Phillies’ starting rotation and is looking to build off his 2017 season that saw him go 8-10 and start 26 games.

Considered one of the best hitters in all of baseball, Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto finished second in National League Most Valuable Player voting and was named to his fifth All-Star team in 2017. Votto led the National League in on-base percentage (OBP) and on-base plus slugging (OPS) in 2017 with .454 and 1.032 marks, respectively, and added 36 home runs and 100 RBI, in a season that many believe was the best of his career. The 2010 NL MVP is entering his 12th big league season, all with the Cincinnati Reds.

*Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) is on the 10-day disabled list to start the season after spraining his wrist during spring training.

*Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands, Texas) have both represented Canada in international competition due to their parents’ Canadian citizenship.

AL East

Toronto Blue Jays - C Russell Martin (Montréal, Que.)
Toronto Blue Jays – RHP John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.)

AL West

Seattle Mariners – LHP James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.)

NL East

Philadelphia Phillies – RHP Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.)

NL Central

Cincinnati Reds - 1B Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.)

2018 MLB Canadians