Blue Jays’ Springer plans to use Whalers-inspired walkout tune

Hazel Mae reports on Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Springer's road to the 2023 season, from recovering from the injury he sustained in the Jays' final game of the season to finding chemistry with new acquisitions Daulton Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier.

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Springer is planning to change his walkout music for at least one game at Rogers Centre this season.

The selection will be a nod to his Hartford-area sporting roots.

“I’m going to ambush everybody with it at some point and if you know hockey, then I think you’ll know the song,” he said Tuesday with a smile.

Springer, a native of New Britain, Conn., has used “Butterfly Effect” by Travis Scott in recent years. At some point this season, he’ll walk out to “Brass Bonanza,” a beloved old Hartford Whalers theme song.

When he was a youngster, a family friend had season’s tickets on the glass at the Hartford Civic Centre, Springer said. Whenever the friend didn’t want to go, he’d call Springer’s father to see if he was interested in attending.

Springer became a big fan and still has plenty of team gear — T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts — with him at spring training.

“I just became kind of obsessed with the Whalers,” he said. “Ultimately they left (in 1997) and became the (Carolina) Hurricanes but it’s all good.”

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Blue Jays bench coach Don Mattingly was in familiar territory Tuesday as he helped out at first base during infield drills.

A longtime first baseman with the New York Yankees in his playing days, Mattingly was stationed at the bag at times as infielders took grounders and worked on their movement and throws.

“I like being out there and just try to help and be a part of the group as much as anything,” Mattingly said. “I just want to stay around Vlad a little bit over there at first. He’s really good over there with his feet.”

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. won a Gold Glove at first base last season. He participated in drills during a morning session with second baseman Santiago Espinal, shortstop Bo Bichette and others.

“My initial takeaway is this is a really good group,” Mattingly said. “A group that seems like they know what they want to do.”

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Infielder Otto Lopez is one of two members of the Blue Jays organization who will represent Canada at next month’s World Baseball Classic.

The 24-year-old Santo Domingo native was about 10 years old when his family moved to Montreal from the Dominican Republic. Baseball Canada’s national teams director Greg Hamilton recently gave Lopez the good news about his inclusion on the roster.

“It means a lot for me and my family,” Lopez said Tuesday. “It’s a huge country and to play for the country, the people of Canada, is very special.”

Another infielder in the Jays’ system, Damiano Palmegiani, will also play for Canada at next month’s tournament.

Lopez, who speaks Spanish, French and English, had six hits in nine at-bats after being recalled by the Blue Jays last October. He also drove in three runs and had an OPS of 1.367.

Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Freddie Freeman headlines the Canadian roster. Canada is scheduled to play in Pool C with Britain, the U.S., Colombia and Mexico from March 11-15 in Phoenix.

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