OTTAWA- Pitchers and catchers report.
Those four words mean a great deal to baseball fans across Canada and also to 20 Canadians who will head to big league camp as spring training opens this week in Arizona and Florida.
In 2016, 13 Canadians appeared in the big leagues after six began the season on opening day rosters. A modern-day record 26 Canadians appeared in the big leagues in 2011.
Ten of the 20 Canucks headed to big league camp are on 40-man rosters including two players on each of the Blue Jays (Russell Martin, Dalton Pompey) and Phillies (Nick Pivetta, Michael Saunders), while the Athletics (John Axford), Cubs (Rob Zastryzny), White Sox (Brett Lawrie), Mariners (James Paxton), Reds (Joey Votto) and Cardinals (Rowan Wick) each have one.
Of the remaining nine Canadians heading to spring training with the big club, they will participate as non-roster invites.
Canadians in big league camp:
Toronto Blue Jays
C Russell Martin (Montréal, QC)
*OF Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, ON)
Boston Red Sox
C Jordan Procyshen (Calgary, AB)
New York Yankees
*C Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC)
LHP Evan Rutckyj (Windsor, ON)
Chicago White Sox
2B Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC)
*RHP Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK)
*RHP John Axford (Port Dover, ON)
*OF Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC)
LHP James Paxton (Ladner, BC)
*LHP Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC)
*RHP Nick Pivetta (Victoria, BC)
OF Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC)
*RHP Jim Henderson (Calgary, AB)
LHP Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, AB)
1B Joey Votto (Etobicoke, ON)
C Dustin Houle (Penticton, BC)
*3B Eric Wood (Oshawa, ON)
St. Louis Cardinals
*RHP Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, BC)
San Diego Padres
*3B Jamie Romak (London, ON)
Bold indicates played in MLB in 2016
* Indicates named to Canada’s World Baseball Classic roster