Elliott's annual Canada Day lineup

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:29 PM ET

TORONTO - And a happy Canada Day to you, too!

Time to run our 11th annual Canada Day, Team Canada lineup up the flag pole and see how many fans salute.

When we began in 2001 this was a 'what-if?' mythical team. The World Baseball Classic changed all of that in 2006.

Everyone is available, for on Canada Day it is a perfect day to be Canadian. Dr. Ron Taylor and his crack staff has everyone healthy and frisky as colts.

Participation is mandatory, as ordered by national treasure/Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins from the head office in Chatham, Ont.

We have a few candidates to choose from: 21 Canucks have appeared on 2011 major league rosters; 102 in the minors and 40 in the independent leagues.

In 2001 we had to go to double-A to find a third outfielder.

Now we have arguments: Justin Morneau or Joey Votto at first? Does current active Canadian home run leader Matt Stairs play the outfield (and hope nothing is hit his way), DH, or sit and wait for a pinch hit appearance that may never come?

* Leading off will be third baseman Brett Lawrie from Langley, B.C., the Jays’ can’t miss prospect at triple-A Las Vegas, whose broken left hand is healed.

* Batting second is New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin from Montreal.

* In the No. 3 hole is Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto of Etobicoke.

* Hitting clean-up is Minnesota Twins' Justin Morneau of New Westminister, B.C. As is usually the case the starting first base job goes to the reigning MVP, so Morneau will DH.

* Batting fifth is New York Mets left fielder Jason Bay from Trail, B.C.

* Hitting sixth is Chicago White Sox’s Mark Teahen, whose father Mike has his roots in St. Marys, Ont. He’ll be at second base.

* Next is Victoria’s Mike Saunders of the Seattle Mariners. He’ll be in centre.

* In the No. 8 hole is right fielder Rene Tosoni of Coquitlam, B.C., from the Twins.

* And hitting ninth is Toronto-born Cale Iorg, son of ex-Jay Garth Iorg at triple-A Toledo in the Tigers system.

Manager Ernie Whitt, from the Windsor suburb of Clinton Township, Mich., will give the ball to Chicago Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, B.C. For Dempster it will be his fifth Canada Day start as he had the honour in 2010, 2006, 2002 and on our inaugural team in 2001.

Pitching coach Denis Boucher of Lachine, Que., will have Seattle’s Erik Bedard of Navan, Ont., Jeff Francis of North Delta, B.C., from the Kansas City Royals, Victoria’s Rich Harden from the Oakland A’s and Guelph’s Scott Diamond, a Twins farmhand in the rotation.

Relievers will be Toronto’s Jesse Crain of the White Sox; North Vancouver’s Blake Hawksworth of the Dodgers; Langley’s Scott Mathieson and Gatineau’s Phillippe Aumont, of the Philadelphia Phillies; Vancouver’s Trystan Magnuson of the A’s, and Pirates farmhand Chris Leroux of Mississauga.

They’ll get the ball to Port Dover closer John Axford, who has 20 saves for the Milwaukee Brewers.

On the bench will be pinch hitter Stairs of Fredericton, N.B., and the Washington Senators.

The back-up catchers are Markham’s George Kottaras of the Brewers and Vancouver’s Mike Nickeas of the New York Mets.

Infielders are Newmarket’s Peter Orr of the Phillies and Laval infielder Jonathan Malo from the Mets system, as well as Cambridge’s Scott Thorman at triple-A Toledo and Surrey, B.C.’s Adam Loewen at Vegas.

Also on Whitt's staff are former major leaguers Larry Walker of Maple Ridge, B.C., and Windsor’s Stubby Clapp.

And now let's go upstairs to Jerry Howarth in the booth ... re-capping our 2001 lineup:

1. Shortstop Kevin Nicholson, Surrey, B.C., triple-A Colorado Springs

2. Second baseman Clapp, triple-A Memphis;

3. Right fielder Walker, Rockies

4. first baseman Stairs, Cubs

5. Third baseman Corey Koskie, Anola, Man., Twins

6. DH Todd Betts, Scarborough, triple-A Tacoma

7. Catcher Cody McKay, Vancouver, triple-A Sacramento

8. Left fielder Rob Ducey, Cambridge, Ont., Montreal Expos

9. Centre fielder Ntema (Pappy) Ndungidi, Montreal, double-A Bowie in the Orioles system

And Dempster is on the mound.


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