Teahen crazy for Canada, Jays

New infielder Mark Teahen salutes Blue Jays fans at the Rogers Centre before Thursday night's game...

New infielder Mark Teahen salutes Blue Jays fans at the Rogers Centre before Thursday night's game against the Orioles. (MARK O'NEILL/QMI Agency)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:50 PM ET

TORONTO - Blue Jays manager John Farrell, plus coaches Pat Hentgen, Bruce Walton, Dwayne Murphy, Torey Lovullo and Luis Rivera, recall consecutive SkyDome sellouts from their playing days in the early 1990s.

Mark Teahen, one of the New Jays, was the only player in uniform Thursday, who has really seen the Rogers Centre jump.

Teahen was at third base when Team Canada played Team USA before 42,314 fans, most dressed in red and white, in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

“I’ve never been to the post-season, but the atmosphere around that game was the coolest I’ve ever been involved in,” said Teahen, who doubled off Jack Hanrahan in the sixth inning as Canada evened the score 4-4.

It was country versus country, virtually sudden-death, in doubt until the final pitch, with the tying run at second. J.J. Putz retired the final two outs — Justin Morneau and Jason Bay — in a 6-5 win.

It was a better atmosphere than say, either Canada Day or opening day.

Without scoreboard prompting fans chanted “MVP, MVP,” when Morneau came up.

They chanted Joey Votto’s name.

If the Jays win on Canada Day or opening day. Nice.

If they don’t, oh well, there is another game the next night.

Canada-USA was like coming to game 162 of the season.

That WBC atmosphere, or even an opening day or a Canada Day feel were not present as Colby Rasmus made his Jays’ debut in centre before 16,152 fans Thursday night at the Rogers Centre. Reliever P.J. Walters and Teahen put on their Jays uniform for a first time, while lefty relievers Trever Miller and Brian Tallet suited up in a Jays’ uniform again.

Teahen heard late Tuesday he could be dealt and when he showed up at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago Wednesday he didn’t get the chance to put on his uniform.

“I said my good-byes to (Toronto-born reliever) Jesse Crain and said ‘we’ll play together again with Canada,’” Teahen said. “Now, what’s this? We have to qualify for the next one?”

Canada has to qualify in the fall of 2012 for the 2013 WBC.

Italy eliminated Canada 6-2 in the second game of the ‘09 Classic.

“They threw this lefty I don’t even recall his name (Dan Serafini) against our left-handed lineup and we couldn’t do a thing,” said Teahen.

“We wanted to play another game, it was disappointing, surprising, but we didn’t hit.”

Winless Chinese Taipei, Panama, South Africa and Canada return from 2009, along with newcomers Brazil, Colombia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Philippines, Spain, and Thailand in four-team pools to win the four berths.

“I’ll play, it’s bonus baseball,” Teahen said.

Against Spain and Brazil?

“Well, I say yes now,” Teahen said. “You might have to check back after the end of next season, see how healthy I am.”

Born in Redlands, Calif., Teahen is looking forward to wearing Canadian colours again, as his pop Mike of St. Marys, Ont., did when he caught for Team Canada.

“One day my father took Mark, my older brother, a sophomore at California-Riverside, myself, a high school senior — so it had to be 1999 — and my younger brother Mick, a high school sophomore to throw us batting practice,” Teahen said. “When we finished he said ‘OK, throw me some.’ He hit them farther than any of us.”

Teahen enjoyed his Team Canada experience, especially Matt Stairs, who the Washington Nationals designated for assignment this week.

“I played with Matt in Kansas City in 2006, he told me that was his final year,” Teahen said. “He has a great approach at the plate.”

Teahen, who earns $4.75 million this season and $5.5 million in 2011, will be a bench player for the Jays.

He’s started 416 games at third in his career, 257 games in right, 26 at first, 31 in left, four in centre and three at second.

“It was fun to represent the country and see how good a team we could put together in Canada uniforms,” Teahen said.


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