Victoria’s Michael Saunders was expecting to have a homecoming, sorta, when he was shipped to Canada’s only Major League Baseball club – the Toronto Blue Jays.
But unfortunately, having just arrived at training camp in Dunedin, Florida, Saunders has already suffered a knee injury that will keep him out until July’s All-Star Game.
Saunders said he was fielding fly balls on Wednesday and stepped on a sprinkler head, tearing cartilage in his knee (ESPN).
“My foot got jammed, kinda, to be honest I don’t know exactly how it happened,” Saunders told reporters on Thursday. “It stopped me in my tracks and I heard a pop. I was scared to find out (what might have happened) so I did my best just to get off the field.”
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos described the incident as “bad luck”, and said Toronto will still have the centre fielder “for a long time”.
The British Columbian product – who played high school ball for the Victoria Mariners of the British Columbia Premier Baseball League, and attended Lambrick Park Secondary – was traded to Toronto by the Seattle Mariners last December, and signed a one-year, $2.875-million extension in January.
Of course, Saunders was actually closer to home playing in Seattle, but a Canadian getting to play in the MLB’s only ‘Great White’ market is something he obviously treasures.
“Nobody’s more excited to be here than me,” Saunders said in Dunedin. “The biggest thing I’m going to have to overcome now is mentally, rather than physically.”
Saunders said it was “a positive” he didn’t injure or tear his ACL.
“I know I’m in good hands. I know I’m going to be okay. It could be worse… my goal is to be in Major League games by All-Star Break, and hopefully sooner.”
Video: The Canadian Press