They may have released Victoria, B.C. native Rich Harden earlier this month, but several players in the Texas Rangers’ starting lineups on Friday and Saturday have honed their skills in Canada.
Here’s a list of the players and their Canadian connections:
1. Michael Young, 3B
As I’ve written before, Young was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 1997 draft. That same year, he would toil alongside Vernon Wells on the Class-A Short-Season St. Catharines Stompers, posting a .308 batting average and nine home runs in 74 games. He was dealt to the Rangers on July 19, 2000 for starting pitcher Esteban Loaiza, in what’s widely regarded as the worst trade in Blue Jay history.
2. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Guerrero is arguably the greatest player to don a Montreal Expos uniform. From 1996 to 2003, he socked a club record 234 home runs and hit .323 for the ill-fated Canadian club. Before injuries took their toll, he was also an elite defensive outfielder, with an arm that drew comparisons to Roberto Clemente’s.
3. Nelson Cruz, LF & RF
Originally signed by the New York Mets, Cruz was traded to the Oakland A’s in August 2000. The power-hitting outfielder, who belted three homers in the ALDS, played 76 games for the Class-A Short-Season Vancouver Canadians in 2002. He belted four homers and knocked in 25 runs during this stint with the Canadian squad.
4. Matt Treanor, C
Treanor, C.J. Wilson’s favorite battery-mate, suited up for 36 games with the Triple-A Calgary Cannons while in the Marlins’ organization in 2002. He hit .284 and knocked in 18 runs during his stint with the Stampede city team.
5. Bengie Molina, C
The portly backstop has toiled in three Canadian cities during his career. After playing one game for the Vancouver Canadians in 1995, he returned to the city in 1998 to suit up for 49 more contests with the then Angels Triple-A squad. When the Angels shifted their Triple-A affiliate to Edmonton in 1999, Molina moved with them. In 65 games with the Edmonton Trappers in 1999, Molina hit .286 and belted seven homers. He also played the 2006 campaign with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he hit .284 with 19 round-trippers.