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Spring* is right here
*OK, not truly. Most of Canada continues to be in winter’s grip. However there are indicators it is loosening. A kind of involves us from Dunedin, Fla., the place the Toronto Blue Jays at the moment are holding full-squad spring coaching exercises. Looks like a superb time for a fast catchup on the Jays as they put together for opening day on April 1 at Yankee Stadium:
They will not be again in Canada for some time.
The Jays introduced final week that, because of ongoing well being/journey restrictions, they will stay in Dunedin for at the very least their first two homestands of the common season. Meaning they will be taking part in out of their spring-training stadium till Could 14 on the earliest.
Staff president Mark Shapiro stated the Jays need to return to Toronto “as quickly as it’s protected to take action.” However there isn’t any timetable for the transfer and it will in all probability rely upon the Canadian authorities easing its restrictions on cross-border journey. So there is a good likelihood the Jays stay in Florida (or at the very least in the US) previous mid-Could. As soon as the summer season warmth/humidity/thunderstorms bear down on central Florida, the Jays may head north to Buffalo, the place they performed their residence video games final season.
There are some new faces in camp.
The large one is centre-fielder George Springer, who was lured from Houston with the richest contract ($150 million US over six years) in Blue Jays historical past. Springer, 31, was one of many high free brokers available on the market. He received the World Collection MVP award in 2017, averaged 31 residence runs within the final 4 full seasons and homered at even greater charge in pandemic-shortened 2020.
Toronto additionally signed Marcus Semien to be its new second baseman. He performed shortstop for Oakland, the place he hit 39 residence runs in 2019 and completed third within the American League MVP vote. Semien was terrible on the plate final yr, however the Jays gave him a one-year, $18-million deal that ought to inspire him to rebound.
Toronto took an identical strategy to making an attempt to improve its pitching behind ace Hyun-jin Ryu, rolling the cube on one-year offers with a number of gamers. These embrace lefty starter Steven Matz, who’s coming off an atrocious season for the Mets, and potential nearer Kirby Yates, who led the majors with 41 saves in 2019 for San Diego however had his 2020 ruined by an elbow damage.
However it’s the “previous” faces who will make or break this group.
Citation marks round “previous” as a result of we’re speaking in regards to the Jays’ younger core. Shortstop Bo Bichette, who turns 23 subsequent week, hopes to bounce again after a knee damage price him a month final season and sapped him of his energy as soon as he returned. Twenty-five-year-old Swiss Military knife Cavan Biggio will in all probability spend extra time at third base with Semien taking on at second. Nook outfielders Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Teoscar Hernández are each coming off wonderful seasons and are nonetheless on the appropriate facet of 30. Twenty-one-year-old catcher Alejandro Kirk confirmed promise final yr, and 24-year-old pitcher Nate Pearson may very well be a godsend for the skinny rotation if he faucets into his potential.
However all eyes, once more, shall be on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The just about-22-year-old slugger has proven flashes, however he nonetheless hasn’t lived up the hype accompanying his arrival within the majors two years in the past. Guerrero seems to be in a lot better form this yr (with the requisite Instagram exercise pics to show it) however the strain is on him to begin producing just like the all-star everybody figured he’d be.
The Jays can construct on final yr.
Their shock playoff look was extra a product of the shortened season and expanded post-season discipline than the precise high quality of the roster. However Toronto is an efficient, younger group that made some strong additions and may problem for a spot within the back-to-normal playoffs.
It’s going to be powerful to high the Yankees within the AL East, however this is a heat thought that can assist you via the previous few weeks of winter: Fangraphs’ revered projection system has Toronto ending second within the division at 88-74 — forward of the enhancing Pink Sox and declining AL-champion Rays. In line with the mannequin, that may tie the Jays for the second-best report within the AL and would land them a wild-card playoff spot for the second yr in a row.
The Scotties Event of Hearts is heating up. It is the ultimate day of the opening spherical, and solely eight groups will advance to the championship pool, which begins tomorrow. Defending champion Kerri Einarson’s Staff Canada (7-0) shall be there, and so will Ontario’s Rachel Homan (6-1). They’d already clinched spots heading into their Pool A showdown at 3:30 p.m. ET, which is a rematch of final yr’s ultimate. Pool B was extra crowded on the high, with Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson, six-time champ Jennifer Jones of Manitoba and Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges tied at 5-2 after the morning draw. The wild-card group skipped by Chelsea Carey was simply behind at 5-3. Learn extra about at present’s outcomes right here. Watch final evening’s episode of That Curling Present, which featured a celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of Brad Gushue’s Olympic gold medal, right here. And watch tonight’s present stay at 7:30 p.m. ET on the CBC Olympics Twitter, Fb and Instagram pages.
Oklahoma Metropolis’s Canadians had an enormous evening. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a career-high 42 factors and Lu Dort hit the game-winning three on the buzzer within the Thunder’s 102-99 victory over San Antonio final evening. Dort completed with 16 factors and is now averaging 12.6 on the season — up practically six factors from his rookie yr. Gilgeous-Alexander is seizing the chance to be OKC’s go-to man after the Thunder traded away future hall-of-famer Chris Paul within the low season. The third-year guard is averaging 33 factors over his final three video games and now ranks twentieth in NBA scoring at 23.5 per sport. He is additionally averaging 6.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds.
The Canadian ladies’s soccer group ended its comeback event on a bitter word. Enjoying for the primary time because the pandemic hit practically a yr in the past, Canada scored just one objective and received solely one in all its three matches on the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando. After an encouraging 1-0 loss to the juggernaut United States, Canada beat Argentina 1-0 earlier than getting blanked 2-0 by Brazil yesterday. Seven key Canadian gamers had been absent from the mini-tournament, so it is arduous to attract any conclusions in regards to the group’s possibilities of successful a 3rd consecutive Olympic medal this summer season. We would study extra when Canada performs its subsequent match, an away pleasant vs. No. 6-ranked England, on April 13. Learn extra about Canada’s efficiency on the SheBelieves Cup right here.
The Canadian Elite Basketball League will tip off its third season in June. The beginning was pushed again from mid-Could and the variety of video games lower from 20 to 14 for every group in hopes that followers shall be allowed in arenas when the season opens. Final summer season, the seven-team CEBL turned one of many first North American leagues to return after the pandemic shutdown when it performed a month-long event in St. Catharines, Ont., to crown a 2020 champion. This yr, seven consecutive Saturday video games shall be broadcast on the CBC TV community, beginning with the June 5 season opener between defending champion Edmonton and Fraser Valley. Video games may also be streamed stay on CBC Gem, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports activities app. Learn extra in regards to the CEBL’s 2021 season right here.
Developing from CBC Sports activities
Alpine snowboarding: Watch a World Cup ladies’s downhill race in Italy stay Friday at 5:45 a.m. ET right here.
CBC Sports activities U: Anybody pursuing a profession in sports activities media would possibly need to try this free, interactive digital summit on March 3. CBC Sports activities is bringing collectively some well-known sports-media personalities to present college students an inside have a look at their experiences and a chance to ask questions. Get extra particulars and join right here.
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