Richmond Hill native Pete Orr and three Blue Jays’ prospects will be representing Canada at the upcoming 2011 Pan Am Games baseball qualifying tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Before they face Mexico for their opener on Oct. 1, the Canucks will travel to Durham, N.C. to take on Team USA for three exhibition games (Sept. 26-28).
Teams that finish in the top eight automatically qualify for the 2011 Pan Am games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Canada will be in tough, though, as Group B consists of Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua and Cuba.
However, they will have the help of ex-Blue Jay Ernie Whitt.
The former catcher, who has managed Canada since 2004 and led Canada’s bronze medal effort at the 2009 World Cup, and will manage the 24-man roster. Former N.L. MVP Larry Walker will serve as the hitting coach, while Denis Boucher handles the pitching staff.
Saw action in three seasons for the Braves
Orr played three years with the Atlanta Braves (2005-2007), appearing in 281 games before being designated for assignment.
He signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals on Nov. 14, 2007 and made it back to the majors in June 2008, appearing in 57 games for the big club.
The 31-year-old spent this season at Triple-A Syracuse (farm club of the Washington Nationals), hitting .266 with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs.
Trifecta of Jays on the squad
Thanks in part to Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos’ new policy of making eligible players available to Team Canada, three Blue Jays’ prospects will be on the squad — third baseman Shawn Bowman, outfielder Adam Loewen and reliever Trystan Magnuson.
All three played this year with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Bowman hit .263 with 22 home runs and 69 RBIs. Loewen, a former starter for the Baltimore Orioles, hit .246 with 13 long balls and 70 driven in.
Magnuson went 3-0 with a 2.58 ERA to go along with three saves.
Other former major leaguers include:
Ryan Braun, an ex-Kansas City reliever, was 1-3 with a 2.23 ERA and 18 saves with triple-A Charlotte (White Sox).
Adam Stern hit .326, with five homers and 29 RBIs with triple-A Nashville (Brewers).
Scott Thorman, a former Braves’ first baseman, hit .280 with 22 homeruns and 85 batted in with triple-A Omaha (Royals).
At age 21, Phillippe Aumont is the youngest player on the team. The 2007 11th overall pick of the Seattle Mariners was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies in the Roy Halladay deal last December.
Another link to Toronto is former Jays’ manager Carlos Tosca, who is a member of Team USA’s coaching staff.
In addition, former Jays farmhand Tim Collins (part of the Anthony Gose for Brett Wallace trade earlier this season) is one the five southpaws in the American lineup.
The final will be held on Oct. 14.