Toronto Blue Jays players make winter tour stop in Edmonton
'Any time I get the chance to come to different spots I haven't seen across this country I make sure I sign up
It's January, but hundreds of Edmontonians were excited about major league baseball inside Rogers Place Friday as they lined up for autographs from four Toronto Blue Jays.
Kevin Pillar, Marco Estrada, Aaron Sanchez, and Devon Travis are on a short winter tour which stopped in Regina for a few days before arriving in Edmonton, to be followed by a stop in Toronto.
In Edmonton the Jays spent Friday night signing autographs for fans who had won tickets through a lottery. The players will make another appearance in Rogers Place tomorrow, and will get a glimpse of fellow athletes, the Edmonton Oilers.
"I don't think I would have been in Regina if it wasn't for the winter tour," said Jays pitcher, Aaron Sanchez. "Any time I get the chance to come to different spots that I haven't seen across this country, I make sure I sign up.
"It's my first time in Edmonton, so I look forward to all the fun that's going to happen over the next few days."
Of those lucky enough to get autographs, stood Calgarians Melanie Lea and her son, Kyle Baker.
Lea has travelled to Washington, D.C, Tampa Bay and Toronto to see the Jays play, but the drive from Calgary to Edmonton is the shortest distance she's ever had to travel to see her favourite team.
"I got brought in as a fan by my husband in 1980 and we've travelled to see them here and there," Lea said.
She was most excited to meet center fielder Kevin Pillar, even for just a few seconds.
"He gives back to the Jays and the community," she said. "He gives it all. He just cares about the game. He gives himself too much sometimes and hurts himself."
Tomorrow the Blue Jays will make a more low-key appearance when they meet patients and their families at the Stollery Children's Hospital. It's a day that the players say will be special.
"Those few minutes that you get to see a smile on their face, it lights up the entire room," said 33-year-old Marco Estrada. "I have two kids so it's tough for me to see stuff like that."
For Kevin Pillar, 28, he knows his appearance at the Stolllery will be important for parents who may need a distraction from their child's ailing health.
"I try to learn from that, as I'm wanting to have a family some day soon," said Pillar. "To see what parenting is about when parents lose their job or spend 15 to 20 hours beside by their kid, there's a lot to be learned from that."
The Toronto Blue Jays players wrap up their winter tour next weekend in Toronto.