Blue Jays offer inspiration

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:36 PM ET

ST. PETERSBURG — They are boys playing against men and the scoreboard at the end of the day reflected that disparity.

A team composed mainly of Blue Jay triple-A and double-A players thumped the Canadian junior nationals, a team of teenagers by a score of 9-0 Friday but, in truth, the score is irrelevant.

Greg Hamilton, the head coach and director of Canada’s national teams, has brought his top juniors to Florida to face some stiff competition in an international series of games against a potpourri of teams, including the national team of the Netherlands and a touring South Korean pro team. They are here to learn and Friday’s exercise against the Jays yielded plenty of lessons.

“It’s tremendously important,” Hamilton said. “Basically, we treat it as an instructional environment. We get our work in every morning and then play an afternoon or evening game.

“It’s invaluable. We bring 14-to-18 year-olds down here and you watch them grow up.”

One of the Canadians is 14-year-old Torontonian Gareth Morgan, who started in right field and faced pitching he might not be expected to face for another four or five years.

“He’s got a chance to be awful special,” Hamilton said. “You look at him and you’d never peg him to be 14. Part of that process is to keep it in perspective.”

This game against the Jays is a highlight of their two-week stay in Florida. It’s the first of what may become an annual informal event.

“We’ve hoped for this for a while,” Hamilton said. “Our kids all dream about being a Blue Jay and this makes it real for them when they can play against them.”

Included in the Jays contingent were Canadians Brett Lawrie, Adam Loewen, Mike Crouse and Marcus Knecht, all of whom have played on various national teams.

“It’s wonderful to see guys move on and have opportunity and when they do move on, they’re not overwhelmed,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t mean they’ll make it to the pinnacle of the game but at least they’ll go with eyes wide open.”


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