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Fri, July 16, 2004
Foes to feel a familiar pride
By BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

They wore different uniforms last night at Frontier Field in Rochester, N.Y.

And when they met, Newmarket infielder Peter Orr of the Richmond Braves and Rochester Red Wings first baseman Justin Morneau, of New Westminster, B.C., congratulated each other.

Come next month, providing Morneau isn't recalled by the Minnesota Twins, they will take the field in Athens wearing the same uniform, with Canada across the front of their jerseys.

Both helped Canada win the Olympic qualifier at Panama in November and both were on the 25-man Olympic roster unveiled yesterday.

"When you represent your country, you feel like the whole country is part of your team," Orr said from Rochester. "You feel like you are representing your family and everyone else back home.

"We played liked a family in Panama. We're all very proud Canadians."

Orr was a back-up infielder with Richmond until Nick Green was promoted to the Atlanta Braves. Now, he's playing second every day and took a .324 average into last night's game.

While Morneau sports a flaming red Maple Leaf on his right shoulder, with the number 33 inside the flag, when will a tattoo-parlour booking be made for Orr?

"I've been joking with Adam Stern, that if I made the Olympic team I'd get a tattoo," Orr said of Stern, who is at double-A Greenville in the Braves system, and will play centre field for Team Canada.

Compared to the team that qualified in Panama, the Olympic squad could be stronger.

New is lefty Jeff Francis, if he remains at triple-A Colorado Springs and isn't recalled by the Colorado Rockies.

New could be righty Shawn Hill, of Georgetown, who was demoted by the Montreal Expos yesterday. Hill might eventually be part of the team if room opens for him because changes can be made up to the July 31 deadline.

That's a lot of ifs, but shortstop Danny Klassen, of Leamington, has been added as a needed right-handed bat to the left-handed heavy lineup.

Newcomers to Team Canada, who weren't in Panama include Simon Pond, who started the season with the Blue Jays, Oshawa catcher Andy Stewart, Montreal lefty Eric Cyr, Paul Spoljaric, the ex-Jay, closer Aaron Myette, Francis and Klassen.

Back to be the workhorse in the bullpen, to bridge the gap from the starters to the closer is Uxbridge's Chris Begg.

Begg took an unusual route to the pros. He played for Steve Murray with the Peterborough Tigers, later with Team Ontario coaches Murray Marshall and Mike McRae, and then was the conference pitcher of the year with the University of Niagara.

Undrafted, he wrote letters to independent league teams and signed with Albany in 2002.

"I sent out a baseball resume and heard back from five or six clubs," Begg said from Norwich,Conn., "I chose Albany."

A year ago, he started with St. Paul, and signed with San Francisco in July before heading down to Panama.

"It was an incredible experience to play for your country, to hear the Canadian anthem after our wins, to read Canada across our chests," he said.

"It was the best team I've ever played on for wanting to win, to have fun. While some guys might have been uptight, Stubby Clapp kept us loose."

DIFFERENT GOAL

Begg admits growing up he never contemplated playing in the Olympics.

"As a player, you always think about making the majors," Begg said. "Hopefully now we can give kids a different goal. Some players might not make the majors, but they can play in the Olympics or play international competition for Canada."

And there is not a bigger international stage than the Olympics.


Does Canada's low-medal haul in Athens bother you?
Yes, it depresses me
No, it's just sports
I'm disappointed, but not worried
We'll get 'em in Turin
Don't care

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