March 17, 2018
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
Time flies, folks. Already more than halfway through my trip south, and it's a special day as the split-squad Toronto Blue Jays take on the Canadian Junior National Team.
It was announced on Friday that it would be "legacy day" with sons (or in one case a nephew) of former major league players filling the lineup. It has worked out that the Blue Jays have selected several sons of high-profile major leaguers in the last few years and so the starting infield featured Kacy Clemens (son of Roger) at first, Cavan Biggio (son of Craig) at second, Bo Bichette (son of Dante) at shortstop and Vladimir Guerrero Jr (son of Vladimir Sr) at third base. Additionally, Brandon Grudzielanek (nephew of Mark) and Dwight Smith Jr (son of Dwight Sr) also both started the game.
The Blue Jays's line up also had Canadian Connor Panas of Toronto and Mc Gregory Contreras (of the Dominican Republic) while Montreal native Russell Martin caught Marcus Stroman's first outing in a while. Other Canadians getting into the game were Burlington, Ont., native Mattingly Romanin (the son of Mal, a former Blue Jays' PR exec), catcher Owen Spiwak (Mississauga, Ont.) and pitchers Shane Dawson (Drayton Valley, Alta.) and Brayden Bouchey (Vancouver, B.C).
All in all, it was a fun day with Baseball Canada's Greg Hamilton holding court, Toronto-born Braden Halladay holding his own in his press scrum. He seemed to be constantly retreating slightly from the gaggle of reporters (yours truly included) but the young man was articulate, self-aware, appreciative about his opportunity and reverent about his dad's knowledge of pitching. He would make Roy proud later in the game when, after a long ovation upon his entry to the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, he would retire three batters in order and be treated to another long ovation that made this writer a little misty.
We also had scrums with Kacy Clemens and Cavan Biggio. Kacy talked about playing in his father's shadow while also growing up and playing ball with Cavan Biggio and Caden Williams, the son of former Blue Jay Woody Williams. Kacy recalled going out to dinner with Cavan, Caden and their dads after games and hearing a lot of baseball stories. Cavan also talked about playing the same position as his father but also revealed that he worked with Roberto Alomar last year, working on his footwork and making sure his "third eye" was always pointed towards his target (the "third eye" being the inside of his right ankle as he prepared to throw).
During the game itself, I spent most of my afternoon shooting photos but I did get to see Maverik Buffo pitch from the press box and he looked very good to my eyes and from my vantage point.
Following the game, I had an appointment at the minor league complex so I headed over there and spoke to Logan Warmoth and Kevin Smith, a couple of shortstops whom the Blue Jays drafted last year. The conversations were very interesting and I'm sure you're going to enjoy them when the podcasts come out.
Sunday I'm back at the minor league complex for Class-A games against the Yankees.
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