National pride

We’re in Peoria on Wednesday (where, by the way, Glen Perkins was lights out) and we look over to a side field at the complex where the Mariners and Padres have their Spring Training homes. A bunch of players were working out and playing an exhibition game where red and white uniforms.

Being the curious sort, I had to check it out. Lo and behold, it’s the Canadian National Team. With all the focus on the conclusion of the AFL, it’s easy to forget that several nations are headed to Arizona for the first round of Olympic qualifying. Most of Team USA is on AFL rosters, with the remaining few players working out at various spots in Arizona (I believe they’re in Mesa today). In fact, we’ll have Shane Victorino on MLB Radio’s Around the Minors in a special two-hour show this Friday, 2-4 p.m. ET. US manager Davey Johnson will also join the show. It’ll be interesting to hear how everyone is dealing with the pressure of trying to erase the 2003 experience when the U.S. did not qualify for the Olympics in Greece.

Back to the Canadians. They were playing a team with jerseys that simply said "WFAST" on it. A semipro team? A beer league softball squad? No, it turns out it’s a collection of young Mariners Minor Leaguers who are in Peoria for offseason workouts. A few Canadian team members are still on AFL squads — Scott Mathieson and Adam Loewen should give them a pretty good 1-2 punch in the rotation and George Kottaras should help out behind the plate when Russ Martin is not in the lineup. Speaking of Martin, the Dodgers prospect, he’ll join the show on Friday as well, along with Team Canada skipper Ernie Whitt. When a friend watching the exhibition asked one team member why he was doing this (namely, playing this deep into November when most players are probably ready to go home), the proud Canadian simply responded, "I want to help my country qualify."

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