Diamond shines as Blue Jays split squad routs Canada juniors

Some Toronto Blue Jays played a split squad game against Canada’s junior team, showing the youngsters that their dreams are not impossible to achieve.

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Scott Diamond tossed two perfect innings, prospect Connor Panas homered and a Toronto Blue Jays split squad blanked the Canadian junior national team 12-0 on Thursday.

Diamond, who has not allowed a run in five outings, struck out four. The left-hander is battling for an opening-day roster spot but has not appeared in a big league game since going 6-13 with Minnesota in 2013.

Panas, a ninth-round selection out of Canisius in last year’s draft, hit an RBI double off 18-year-old starter Josh Burgmann in the second. He added a solo shot to right field in the fifth as part of a four-run inning.

Russell Martin went 0 for 1, grounding into a double play in the first.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said facing Team Canada has become a tradition his players look forward to each spring.

"They get a thrill out of it," he said. "Of course, we've got some of our bigger big league players that are Canadian . so it's a fun day. You've got to tip your hat to the program they're running over there."

Four Toronto pitchers combined on a one-hitter.

STARTING TIME

Team Canada: Burgmann yielded four runs (three earned) on three hits in two innings. The right-hander, who is a senior at Vauxhall High in Alberta, also walked five.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Blue Jays: 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion (strained oblique) participated in pregame warmup exercises, but Gibbons said no timeline has been set for his return. . RHP Marco Estrada (sore back) is scheduled to make his exhibition debut in relief of J.A. Happ on Sunday against the Pirates. . LHP Aaron Loup (strained flexor tendon) played catch on flat ground for the first time since being shut down for two weeks after an MRI revealed the injury on March 4.

HE CAN SING, TOO

Dressed in full uniform, Blue Jays bat boy John O'Connor performed both "O Canada" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the game.

After finishing to a strong ovation, O'Connor got a fist bump from first base coach Tim Leiper before taking his seat next to the Blue Jays' dugout.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Aaron Sanchez is scheduled to make his second start Friday against the Astros in Dunedin. The 23-year-old righty, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, struck out four and walked one in four scoreless innings Sunday against Tampa Bay.