Ex-Jays hold short reunion

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

DETROIT -- Mike Young and Cesar Izturis were the double-play combination for the single-A Dunedin Blue Jays in 2000.

"The two of us would alternate between short and second," Izturis said.

Five games at second, five at short. Change. Before the music stops.

We remember the late Bobby Mattick telling us: "We don't know who will play where, but when there, they'll play together as long as Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker."

On the day before the all-star game, Izturis and Young were in the interview session along with the other all-stars yesterday in the city where Trammell played alongside Whitaker for more than a decade.

Seated beside Izturis was Felipe Lopez, of the Cincinnati Reds, a former No. 1 pick of the Jays, making it three Toronto-developed shortstops at the all-star game. Three ex-Jays and no Derek Jeter. Did you ever think you would see that all-star team photo?

And it should have been two former No. 1 picks starting the game: Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching for the Nationals against Roy Halladay of the Jays. It would have been until Halladay broke his leg the Friday in Texas.

Another Jays draftee, Jeff Kent of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was selected to the NL roster.

The only way tonight could have been worse for general manager J.P. Ricciardi was if Florida Marlins first baseman Carlos Delgado and Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Brandon Lyon, leading the league in saves when injured, had been selected.

Young was playing with double-A Tennessee at Greenville on July 19, 2000, when he was told that then GM Gord Ash had moved him to the Texas Rangers for righty Esteban Loaiza in a deadline deal.

"I went back to Knoxville and headed to Tulsa," Young said yesterday. He started 2001 at triple-A Oklahoma City and a month into the season he was Alex Rodriguez's double play partner, playing second.

"Toronto moved you a level at a time, that's the way the Jays operated (then)," Young said. "I don't blame them for dealing me ... I was at double-A and they needed a pitcher to try and win the wild card. You can't knock a team for trying to win."

Izturis, signed by Mike Russell and Bob Engle, was playing for the Lara Cardinales on Dec. 13, 2001, in his native Venezuela when he got a message between innings that he had been dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Jays acquired Luke Propopec and Chad Ricketts for Paul Quantrill and Izturis, who is batting .275 with one homer and 20 RBIs.

That deal was made almost a month after Ricciardi became GM of the Blue Jays.

The theory on dealing Izturis was that Ricciardi preferred Lopez, since he reminded him of Miguel Tejada ... "a 30-homer guy."

Soon, and we mean very soon, the Jays front office was calling him "Flop" Lopez in meetings. Somewhere between a 30-homer shortstop and a flop is the real Lopez.

"I always knew Felipe could play in the majors, we were traded for business reasons," said Izturis, the prospect in the deal with the Dodgers as Quantrill's salary was tossed over the side.

Lopez playing for the Santurce Cangrejeros on Dec. 15, 2002, when he received a call that he had been dealt to the Cincinnati Reds as part of a four-team, deal which saw the Jays receive minor-leaguers John-Ford Griffin and Jason Arnold.

"I never thought this would happen, sitting in this room with the game's best players" said Lopez, who was signed by scout Tony Arias. "Being traded was exciting. I think at the time I needed a fresh start."

Lopez, the opening-day shortstop in 2002, lost his job to Chris Woodward. He says he still keeps in touch with Alex Rios and Orlando Hudson of the current Jays. He's hitting .304 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs.

"I'm so looking forward to seeing Izturis, he's like my brother," Young said. "I think his career mirrors Omar Vizquel. He didn't hit a lot to start, soft hands, the longer he plays the better a hitter he is.

"I'd say those trades all worked out for all of us."

And none worked out for the Jays.


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