Blue Jays' Winter Tour begins in Regina
Estrada, Pillar, Travis, Sanchez on hand for western leg
REGINA -- The Toronto Blue Jays' seventh Winter Tour presented by TD Canada began Thursday, as Marco Estrada, Kevin Pillar, Devon Travis and Aaron Sanchez all headed west to Regina, Saskatchewan. With the players hailing from the warmer climates of California and Florida, experiencing the cold Canadian winter was an entirely new experience.
Because it wasn't just cold. It was -42 with the wind chill.
"It ain't this cold in Florida," laughed Travis as he left the airport and went outside for the first time. "I've never felt anything like this in my life!"
Thursday night, the players warmed up by visiting the students at W.S. Hawrylak School and participating in a Challenger Baseball clinic, where they played a game of indoor baseball with the students.
During the event, the Jays Care Foundation announced that it would be assuming leadership of the Challenger Baseball program in an effort to continue to grow its programming and bring baseball to children with physical and/or cognitive disabilities.
"Challenger Baseball provides the opportunity for kids that wouldn't feel comfortable playing or even have the platform to play," Pillar said. "It gives the opportunity for kids with disabilities to go out there and have fun."
"The program is designed to teach participants the core life-skills inherent to baseball, including teamwork, determination, support and courage," said Robert Witchel, the executive director of the Jays Care Foundation.
"For Jays Care to go above and beyond their call of duty to take over this program and spread it out through Canada just speaks about how wonderful an organization the Blue Jays are and how much they care about spreading baseball to everyone," added Pillar.
Early Friday, Pillar and Travis headed to a local morning show to do its weather segment.
"Here's your weather of the day for everyone looking at the screen," laughed Pillar, pointing to various temperatures from nearby Saskatchewan areas. "It's cold everywhere you go. That's all you need to know."
Later, the players visited Albert Community School, where Blue Jays broadcaster Jamie Campbell and the students asked the players questions about perseverance and the importance of role models. TD Canada also presented the school with a check for $10,000, while the Jays Care Foundation provided multiple sets of baseball equipment.
More questions were asked and answered at the Regina airport, as Sanchez held a Q&A session through the @BlueJays Twitter handle. From his Tim Hortons' order to his favorite ballpark snack to his thoughts about bagged milk, Sanchez had a lot of fun answering fans' questions.
Overall, the Blue Jays' trip to Regina was incredible, and one the players -- and their fans -- will never forget.
"Regina, thank you so much for all of your hospitality. The snow was awesome, we had a blast out here," said Estrada.
The players then headed to Edmonton to hold an autograph session, visit Stollery Children's Hospital and attend an Oilers game.
The Blue Jays Winter Tour is set to resume January 20-22 in Toronto.