DUNEDIN, Fla. – Travis Bergen, the Blue Jays’ seventh-round pick from 2015, has experienced quite a few doses of Canadian culture.
After three stints in three years with the Vancouver Canadians, the Atlanta native was impressed with the Great White North.
Bergen was blown away by everything from the fans themselves to the incredible sushi available all over town.
“The weather was great, the fans were great, and the time that I took to explore the city was really awesome and cool. I enjoyed my time up there”, the pitcher said with a smile as he stood outside the Bobby Mattick Training Center. “We ate a lot of sushi. Anytime I would go out in Vancouver, I wanted to go eat sushi.”
Travelling to an unfamiliar country at such a young age can be daunting for any player. But it gets a little easier when you have a strong support system awaiting your arrival.
“Before you even got there, they had it all set up for us,” Bergen said. “It probably would have been impossible to do it on my own but they made it super easy. The host families were great.”
The left-hander also attributed the ease of his transition to the team. “The organization up there, the Canadians (Short season-A ball) were first class and everything was awesome,” he said.
Despite all of the hospitality he received in Canada, Bergen was still very aware of just how far he had ventured in order to play baseball.
“Vancouver is a lot different than the town and city that I’m from so obviously for me, being on the other side of the continent, was different in itself,” he said.
Although he pitched well for the Canadians over the last three seasons, his workload has been extremely limited due to injury.
He has pitched only 28⅔ innings across rookie ball and A-ball but he posted a 1.88 earned-run average with 40 strikeouts while walking 11. He also only allowed two home runs during that stretch.
Whether he needs some inspiration or some tips on his mechanics, there’s a certain veteran he often watches.
“Jon Lester,” he said. “I think that the way that he pitches is similar to the way that I start to pitch. The way that he gets his outs and he throws a lot of cutters and breaking balls and really pitches off of his fastball.”
If all goes well, Bergen could see himself beginning the year with Dunedin, Vancouver, or even Double-A New Hampshire.