My weekly observations about stories around the baseball world from a Canadian perspective (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):
– I’m willing to bet that I’m not the first Toronto Blue Jays follower to utter the sentence “Who the hell is Lance Zawadzki?” this March. Interestingly enough, the 27-year-old second baseman, who has hit .389 in 12 games for the Jays this spring, was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 48th round in 2003, but he didn’t sign. Instead, he opted to go to college and was later drafted and signed by the San Diego Padres in 2007. His sole taste of big league action was a 20-game stint with the Padres in 2010. The Blue Jays – who apparently signed him as a free agent on December 18– are the fifth big league organization he has been with since the end of 2010. He’s a nice, underdog story, but he’ll almost assuredly begin the season in Triple-A Buffalo.
– Amidst the snow on April 7, 1977, Doug Ault belted two homers for the Toronto Blue Jays in their first game in franchise history. That contest proved to be the highlight of his big league career. His life after baseball wasn’t easy. Ault would’ve turned 63 today. His sad story was documented superbly by Mike Ulmer in the Toronto Sun in 2005: http://is.gd/OmEEcS
– I know it’s way too early to worry about statistics, but after his loss to Mexico in the World Baseball Classic last night, Toronto Blue Jays ace R.A. Dickey has allowed nine earned runs in nine innings in three starts this spring.
– Ray Burris, who was one of the Montreal Expos’ best hurlers during their 1981 playoff run, will be the pitching coach for the Philadelphia Phillies’ Triple-A Lehigh Iron Pigs this season. He’ll work alongside new Iron Pigs’ manager Dave Brundage, who played and coached for the Triple-A Calgary Cannons from 1989 to 1994.
– Happy Birthday to former big league hurler Vince Horsman. The Halifax native, who pitched parts of five seasons in the big leagues with the Jays, A’s and Twins from 1991 to 1995, turns 46 today.
– After Canada was mercied 14-4 by Italy in their World Baseball Classic opener yesterday, social media was rife with criticism of Ernie Whitt. I don’t always agree with every strategic decision he makes, but that’s part of the fun of being passionate about the sport and your team. And let’s not forget that with Whitt and Greg Hamilton at the helm of the senior national team, Canada has won three international medals – including a gold at the 2011 Pan-American Games – in the past four years.
– If you haven’t already done so, please “LIKE” the Cooperstowners in Canada Facebook page. I update this page with links to Canadian baseball stories regularly. Thanks for all your support.