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  • Jose Bautista has expressed a desire to hit third in the Blue Jays lineup, not second. (Getty Images)

    TORONTO – It's no surprise that Jose Bautista finds himself at the centre of the Toronto Blue Jays' whirlwind first-half. Three months of baseball had them left for dead after the first month, and two months later resuscitated and back in a position where the postseason is a consideration. For Bautista, there have been scorching hot streaks coupled with notable cold spells, a couple of fiery umpire-related blowups and through it all he's likely headed to his fourth consecutive All-Star Game.

    Lately the debate revolves around whether Bautista should hit in the Blue Jays lineup, second or third. It's a discussion that even the right fielder has weighed in on.

    Injuries in recent days to Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion have allowed Bautista to return to his favoured three-spot in the lineup after manager

    Read More »from Jose Bautista back hitting second in Blue Jays lineup, right where he should be
  • Chien-Ming Wang only made it through 1.2 innings against the Tigers. (Getty Images)
    TORONTO – The Chien-Ming Wang experiment in Toronto is over.

    The Blue Jays starter, a former Yankees star thrust back into the big leagues due to Toronto’s injury woes, was roughed up for the second consecutive game on Tuesday and designated for assignment afterward. He pitched only 1.2 innings in the Blue Jays’ eventual 7-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers.

    “He struggled. The last two outings, he just couldn’t get out of the second inning,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He couldn’t get any outs, that’s why we had to go to the bullpen. We built that 4-0 lead, we were still in the game.”

    This ugly start came exactly five days after Wang pitched 1.2 innings against the Boston Red Sox and gave up seven earned-runs on six hits in a game the Blue Jays eventually lost 7-4.

    Wang made five starts since signing with the Blue Jays on June 11. He was brilliant in his second start, shutting out the Texas Rangers over seven innings, and followed that up with another quality start against the Baltimore Orioles. But since then, he has been downright awful.

    Read More »from Chien-Ming Wang gets roughed up by Tigers, sent packing by Blue Jays
  • Munenori Kawasaki became a fan favourite during his initial tenure with the Blue Jays. (Getty Images)

    The Toronto Blue Jays' loss to Boston on Friday pulled them a game below .500, but they're in a decidedly better position to make a second half push than they were at the beginning of June. Even though Toronto hasn't been as successful on the field as anticipated it's impossible to dismiss this season as uninteresting and this week has been no different. Here are three items of note from the Blue Jays this week.

    Munenori Kawasaki - not gone for long

    On Tuesday night, fan favourite Munenori Kawasaki was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo after filling in admirably for the injured Jose Reyes. The reaction from many fans was predictably negative even though an outgoing Kawasaki meant the return of multi-time All-Star Reyes.

    Over two months and 60 games, Kawasaki endeared himself to Blue Jays fans base thanks to his exuberant personality and scrappy play. He was at the centre of a few memorable of feel-good moments (even though I'm skeptical that has a significant effect on team performance and shouldn't have played a factor in the decision to demote him).

    Read More »from Munenori Kawasaki, R.A. Dickey, and the bullpen dominate headlines for Blue Jays this week
  • Olynyk went 13th overall to Dallas, who traded him to Boston (The Associated Press)

    Seeing Kamloops, B.C., big man Kelly Olynyk make it a doubly historic night for Canadian hoops is a reminder of a great idea that met its demise too soon.

    Most of the focus on Olynyk giving Canada its first-ever pair of NBA lottery picks by landing with the storied Boston Celtics after a draft night deal with the Dallas Mavericks will centre on his personal overhaul in 2011-12. The 7-foot, 234-pound post player, as you know, took a year off from playing competitively to rebuild his body and his game, which enabled him to average a very efficient 18 points last season while leading the Gonzaga Bulldogs to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

    That was important, but it shouldn't be overlooked that an integral stop aon Olynyk's path from Kamloops, B.C., to the franchise of Larry Bird and Bill Russell was the late and lamented National Elite Development Academy.

    Read More »from Kelly Olynyk going to Boston Celtics shows value of Canada Basketball’s short-lived academy
  • Concerns about shoulder surgery and lack of a natural position made Anthony Bennett a surprise No. 1 overall pick (Craig Ruttle, The Associated Press)

    The Cleveland Cavaliers are officially the NBA's Team Canada as this country's golden generation of basketball talent has achieved further affirmation.

    In a NBA draft class with no surefire first overall pick, the Cleveland Cavaliers were willing to take a reach on Brampton, Ont.'s Anthony Bennett, the combo forward who starred as a freshman at UNLV. The choice preempts 18-year-old Kansas Jayhawks' phenom Andrew Wiggins' presumably inevitable coronation as the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft. Bennett will also be reunited with fellow Brampton product Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers power forward who was previously the highest Canadian draft pick of all time (No. 4 in 2011).

    "It's history, man," Bennett told ESPN when asked what his selection means for Canadian basketball. "Hopefully we can repeat it next year with Andrew Wiggins coming in. It's just a great honour. I'm speechless right now. I don't even know what to say."

    >

    The selection was somewhat shocking to observers; ESPN analyst Bill Simmons exclaimed "Whoa!" as NBA commissioner David Stern called Bennett's name and the Canadian strode to the podium for the traditional handshake with NBA commissioner.

    At a burly 6-foot-7, Bennett might be too small by traditional NBA standards for power forward, where Thompson is established with the Cavaliers after two years in the league. The 20-year-old will also have to broaden his perimeter game to improve his prospects at small forward, the 3-spot. One league executive said prior to the draft that Bennett would have been a slam-dunk No. 1 pick if he was three inches taller. On the other hand, the NBA has been trending smaller, creating opportunities for multidimensional scorers. Along with being able to get to the rim at the college level, Bennett shot a solid 37.5 per cent from Read More »from Anthony Bennett first Canadian taken No. 1 in NBA draft; Cleveland Cavaliers unite Brampton ballers
  • Raonic (left) was upset at Wimbledon while Bouchard if off to the third round. (Getty)Canada’s top two singles tennis players appear, at least for now, to be headed in opposite directions.

    Milos Raonic, the country’s highest-ranked singles player (No. 15 on the ATP) lost his second round match at Wimbledon Thursday, making it three years in a row that the 22-year-old has failed to advance to the third round at the All England Club.

    In 2011 he was forced to retire early in his second round match with Gilles Muller due to a hip injury and last year Sam Querrey eliminated him in four sets, three of which needed tiebreakers. This time around it was Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands who got the better of Raonic. He defeated the Canadian rather convincingly in straight sets, in what was yet another upset in a tournament that’s seen it’s share of top players, both in the men’s and women’s draw, fail to make it out of the second round.

    “At one stage I lost 12 points in a row — pathetic,” Raonic said after the loss. “When I did have chances he played well and I couldn't do what I

    Read More »from Milos Raonic upset at Wimbledon while Eugenie Bouchard receives high praise
  • Brampton, Ontario native Anthony Bennett is projected as a top-five pick. (The Canadian Press)

    There's a bit of a trend developing at the NBA draft.

    When Anthony Bennett and Kelly Olynyk hear their names called by NBA commissioner David Stern on Thursday night in Brooklyn, it will be the fourth consecutive year that a Canadian-born player will be selected in the draft and the third consecutive year that a Canadian will be taken in the first-round.

    This is a significant development. Only three Canadians were drafted into the NBA between 2000 and 2009. The next generation of players are setting a higher standard for their country as the number of players and their basketball pedigree is continuing to grow.

    Bennett and Olynyk enter the draft as well-known commodities, while Myck Kabongo, a five-star high school recruit just two years ago, loiters quietly as a potential second-round bargain and according to Yahoo's Marc Spears could be making a push to go late in the first-round.

    Despite being limited by a shoulder injury, Bennett is regarded as the top power forward in the draft, although his relative lack of height for the position (he's listed as 6-foot-7), has many characterizing him as a "tweener" and wondering how he'll fit in bigger lineups. Even if he's a cross between a 3 and a 4, his deft scoring touch and voracity on the boards is what makes him a promising prospect.

    Read More »from Canadians in the NBA draft becoming an annual tradition
  • Kaillie Humphries (left) is pushing to defend her Olympic gold at the 2014 Sochi Games. (The Canadian Press)

    "It's about moving with resistance because in our sport that's what we do. If we don't have the sleds to push or to pull, sometimes you'll grab a vehicle or others things that are big and heavy, which throws a lot of people off when you got chicks pushing BMW's," said Kaillie Humphries.

    Not a typical way for most Canadians to spend their summer. Of course, Kaillie Humphries isn't your typical Canadian; she's a world-class athlete and an Olympic gold-medallist in bobsleigh.

    So while you're relaxing at your cottage, barbequing on your patio, or playing a round of golf, Olympic hopefuls across the country arepreparingto participate in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and incorporating elements into their training regimens beyond the usual lifting and running that you might not expect.

    Taking a short break from bossing around BMW's, Humphries was one of seven Canadian Olympians on hand to announce a multi-year partnership between the COC and Adidas Canada.

    Humphries isn't the only athlete

    Read More »from Canadian Olympians do whatever it takes to ready themselves for Sochi Games
  • Marcel Rocque (L) with Randy Ferbey at the 2005 World Championships. (CP)

    Just when he'd thought he'd left the grind of curling's road trips behind, Marcel Rocque has rejoined the world of roaring game nomads. One that includes far flung destinations and challenges.

    “I’d given up living out of a suitcase about three years ago when the Ferbey Four (each) went their own way," he said during a break from his job with the Edmonton Public School Board. It's a break that is about to get a whole lot longer than just summer vacation.

    In accepting a position as a coach with the Chinese national curling program, the former lead for Randy Ferbey's four-time Brier championship team is embarking on a near year-long adventure. One that will see him log hundreds of hours of on and off ice instruction and thousands upon thousands of kilometres travelled, both in Canada and overseas.

    “I actually flew to Beijing last weekend for two days which is kind of crazy in itself," he chuckles at the other end of the line. "Who actually ever says ‘Well, I went to Beijing for the

    Read More »from Marcel Rocque sets off on a new curling adventure – in China
  • R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays starters have been impressive during their recent win streak. (The Canadian Press)

    Starting pitching was expected to be the strength of the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays. Before a single pitch was thrown when the Blue Jays were paper champions, with off-season acquisitions R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson, along with holdovers Brandon Morrow, and Ricky Romero taking turns on the mound, the status of the rotation was supposed to be an afterthought; a pillar of consistency for the team after the 2012 season seemed to set the bar for starting pitching heartache.

    Before the Blue Jays ripped off an eight game win streak and vaulted themselves back into a semi-believable playoff hunt, one could point to the Jays starting staff as the season's biggest disappointment to date.

    With Morrow battling injuries and currently on the DL, Romero relegated to triple-A, Johnson limited to seven starts, and Dickey struggling to rediscover his devastating "power" knuckleball, it's not the way Alex Anthopoulos and the front office envisioned it would play out when they put this team together.

    The Jays 4.84 starters ERA still ranks 3rd worst in the majors, but this recent stretch can be attributed to better production from the staff.

    Read More »from Starting pitching key to Blue Jays win streak and future

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