My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):
During a media scrum with former Blue Jays closer Tom Henke prior to his Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction last June, one reporter asked why he wasn’t more involved with the Jays as a spring training instructor (or in a role of that nature). His response was that nobody on the Blue Jays has ever asked him to participate. I thought about this when Jays great Tony Fernandez was named an assistant to the general manager with the Texas Rangers on February 22. The Jays’ front office does a lot of things right, but they need to do a better job of taking care of alumni like Henke and Fernandez.
The additions of Sergio Santos and Darren Oliver should not only improve the Jays’ bullpen, but it should also help them offensively during inter league games. Santos, who has admitted that he still gets the itch to hit when he walks past the batting cage, spent eight seasons in the minors as an infielder and walloped 20 homers for the Jays in Double-A in 2007. And while the ageless Oliver hasn’t had to swing a bat regularly while pitching in the American League over the past five seasons, he recorded 20 hits and hit .274 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1999.
I think it’s safe to say that Mike Johnson, a pitcher on the 2011 Canadian Senior National team that won gold at the Pan Am Games, is the only Canuck who has toed the rubber for three different professional teams in his hometown. The Edmonton native pitched for the Edmonton Trappers (Expos Triple-A) in 2004, the Cracker Cats (Independent, Northern League) in 2007 and the Capitals in 2009 and 2010 (Independent, Golden Baseball League).
From the things I didn’t know file: former Blue Jays third baseman Kelly Gruber’s birth father is Claude King (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/K/KingCl00.htm), a former running back with the New England Patriots, Houston Oilers and the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.
If MLB’s new playoff format had been implemented in 1996, the Montreal Expos would’ve competed against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a one-game showdown for the wild card spot. I wrote a blog entry about this for Sympatico.ca: http://www.thecheapseats.ca/2012/03/major-league-baseballs-new-playoff-format-might-have-saved-the-montreal-expos.html