B.C. big in MLB

BOB MACKIN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:40 PM ET

A bunch of born-and-bred British Columbia ball players are banking on a big season in the big leagues.

New Westminster's Justin Morneau, the 2006 American League most valuable player, leads the Minnesota Twins against the Baltimore Orioles in their season-opening series. Morneau's 34 home runs, 130 RBI and .321 average earned him a pay raise by more than 10-fold to $4.5 million US. Talks are on hold for a long-term deal.

Morneau probably won't face Surrey lefty Adam Loewen. The Baltimore Oriole (6-6, 5.37 ERA in 2006) is scheduled to start at Yankee Stadium on Friday.

Victoria's Rich Harden, a 2001 Vancouver Canadian, is a probable to make his 2007 debut Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Harden, 4-0 in nine 2006 games, missed more than half the 2006 season with a sprained right elbow.

Gibsons, B.C.'s reliever Ryan Dempster has a new boss at Wrigley Field where Lou Piniella is now calling the shots as the 50th manager in Cubs' history. Dempster (1-9, 59 saves, 4.80 ERA) is entering his 10th season and could see action as a closer today against Cincinnati Reds.

Trail-born left-fielder Jason Bay (35 HR, 109 RBI, .286) and his Pittsburgh Pirates visit the Houston Astros today. North Delta southpaw Jeff Francis (13-11, 4.16) hits the mound for the Colorado Rockies tomorrow against Arizona.


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