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Toronto Blue Jays
Based in Toronto, Ontario, The Toronto Blue Jays are a Major League Baseball team. The team is noted for being the only Major League Baseball team outside the United States to win the World Series. They are currently the only Canadian team in the league and are situated in the Eastern Division of the American League. 2006 was the its 30th season.
The Montreal Expos for being the two Canadian baseball teams once convoyed them. After the completing 2004 season, Toronto became the only Major League Canadian baseball team as the Expos were moved to Washington, D.C. to become the Washington Nationals after the 2004 season.
The Toronto Blue Jays came into existence in 1976 as one of two teams scheduled to join the American League for the next season. Toronto had been home to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League until 1967. The San Francisco Giants were considering a shift to the city until Bob Lurie purchased the team in 1976.
Labatt Breweries, with Imperial Trust and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce as alternative owners, initially owned the franchise. The name "Blue Jays" came when former Ontario Premier John Robarts, a member of the team's board of directors, talked about daily routine: "I was shaving this morning and I saw a blue jay out my window". A board member said that it was an interesting name. It was very likely that the new team wore blue in; It has been Toronto's traditional sporting colour since the Toronto Argonauts adopted blue as their prime colour in 1873.
The Blue Jays played their first game on April 7, 1977 against the Chicago White Sox. They won the snowy affair 9-5, led by Doug Ault's two home runs.They charged poorly in both 1978 and 1979, losing over 100 games in each of those seasons. Shortstop Alfredo Griffin was named American League co-Rookie of the Year in 1979.
The 2004 season started with 0-8 at SkyDome. Much due to the injuries to All-Stars Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay and others. Although the additions of starting pitchers Ted Lilly and Miguel Batista and reliever Justin Speier were somewhat successful, veteran Pat Hentgen weakened throughout season and retired on July 24. Rookies and minor league callups David Bush, Jason Frasor, Josh Towers and others filled the void in the rotation and the bullpen. Most starting pitchers did not pitch further than the sixth inning; thus, the overused bullpen contributed to the frequent surrendering of early scoring leads.
Current Blue Jays logo (2004-present)
The offense really sputtered due to the injuries of Wells, Delgado, Catalanotto and others. Five different catchers were used: Greg Myers, Bobby Estalella, Kevin Cash, Gregg Zaun, and rookie Guillermo Quiroz. Greg Myers was injured running the bases in Minnesota, early in the season, and was lost for the year. Bobby Estalella was called up, but lost too. Gregg Zaun landed the starting catching job for the rest of the season. Kevin Cash continued to struggle from an offensive standpoint and would be moved in the off-season. Guillermo Quiroz was promoted from the minors near the end of the season.
Josh Phelps was limited to playing against left-handed pitching and was traded to the Cleveland Indians for first baseman Eric Crozier.
On February 2, 2005, purchase of SkyDome by Rogers Communications, Rogers, renamed stadium the Rogers Centre. By the start of the season Rogers upgraded it with a new "JumboTron" video board and added other modern video screens around the stadium. Also, the more natural-looking FieldTurf replaced the AstroTurf surface. Owner Ted Rogers also promised a payroll increase to $210,000,000 over the next 3 years, which allowed the team to have a team payroll of $80,000,000 per year.
The Blue Jays finished spring training with a 16-10 record. Among the stars of spring training was Gabe Gross, who tied the Jays' record for most home runs in spring training with eight. The Jays were succeeded in spring training with an excellent start; it led the AL East from early to mid-April and held their record around .500 until late August. They were hit with the injury bug when third baseman Corey Koskie broke his finger, but the club was surprised with the performance of rookie call-up Aaron Hill in his stead.
The "new" Toronto Blue Jays Playing at Rogers Centre, 2006
On January 3, J.P. Ricciardi signed free-agent catcher Jason Phillips to a minor league contract. Phillips, who hit .238 the previous season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, also had an invitation to spring training. He started the season with the team after Gregg Zaun was put on the disabled list.
The trades for Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay in the off-season created a glut of corner infielders for the Jays, as the team now had five players (Glaus, Overbay, Eric Hinske, Corey Koskie, and Shea Hillenbrand) who could play third base, first base, or selected hitter. The Jays on January 6 traded Koskie to the Milwaukee Brewers in the second deal between the two clubs in less than a month. They received minor league pitcher Brian Wolfe in return for Koskie. The Blue Jays also moved first baseman (and former third baseman) Eric Hinske to right field as a result.
On February 6, Toronto signed former Angels catcher Bengie Molina to a one-year contract worth with an option for a second. Three days later, Toronto wrapped up its off-season moves by re-signing Shea Hillenbrand and Pete Walker, each to a one-year deal.
On July 2, Troy Glaus, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay, B.J. Ryan, and Alex Rios were picked to represent the Blue Jays at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Rios would not end up competing due to a serious staph infection, occurred around June 28; Along with them the manager John Gibbons was also picked as an assistant coach for the AL team. It was the most stars selected for the game since 1993. The only AL team with more All-Stars than the Jays was the World Series champion the Chicago White Sox, with six.
During the month of January, Toronto signed starting pitchers John Thomson and then Tomo Ohka to incentives-based one-year contracts in an effort to strengthen their 4th and 5th rotational slots. It's expected that they will compete for the final two spots with Janssen, Marcum, McGowan, and Towers. On January 30th Toronto signed starting pitcher Victor Zambrano to a minor league contract, and invited him to Spring Training. Reliever Brandon League, being considered for the main setup role, arrived to Spring Training with a strained lat muscle. To start the season, the Blue Jays named Ohka and Towers as their fourth and fifth starters.
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