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Notes: Morneau mirrors former Rox great Walker

Fellow Canadians both lefty-swinging power hitters, right-handed throwers

DENVER -- Justin Morneau is wearing No. 33 for the Colorado Rockies, just like his boyhood baseball hero, Larry Walker. He's using that locker once occupied by Walker located in the corner of the clubhouse at Coors Field.

When Morneau hit the free-agent market and the Rockies made an offer, he called Walker to get feedback on life in Colorado, which played a role in him agreeing to terms.

And Morneau throws right-handed and hits left-handed, just like Walker.

Morneau, however, said the right-left approach has more to do with growing up playing hockey than trying to copy Walker.

"It's a Canadian thing," he said. "Most of us have played hockey. Your dominant hand is on top when you hold the stick. My brother is left-handed, and he shoots [a hockey puck] right-handed. I'm right-handed, so I swing the stick left-handed."

The end result? Right-handed Canadians who play baseball tend to hit left-handed.

"Russell Martin and Jason Bay are the exceptions that I can think of," Morneau said of the two who play baseball strictly right-handed.

There have been 19 Canadian-born players who have hit more than 25 home runs in the big leagues. Only four of them were strictly right-handed: Martin, Bay, current Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie and Tip O'Neill, the first Canadian big league player, whose career spanned from 1883-92.

Walker is the all-time Canadian leader with 383 Major League home runs, followed by Matt Stairs (265), Bay (222), Morneau (221), Jeff Heath (194 from 1936-49) and Joey Votto (157).

The list of Canadians with more than 24 home runs also includes right-handed-throwing, left-handed-hitting Corey Koskie, George Selkirk, Pete Ward, George Wood, Terry Puhl, Michael Saunders, Aaron Guiel, Rob Ducey, George Kottaras and Sherry Robertson, the nephew of Clark Griffith and cousin of Calvin Griffith.

Age game

Washington outfielder Bryce Harper -- 21 years, 66 days -- was the youngest player on a big league Opening Day roster for the second year in a row. The other 21-year-olds were shortstop Xander Bogaerts of Boston (21 years, 181 days), right-hander Jose Fernandez of Miami (21 years, 243 days) and left-hander Wei-Chung Wang of Milwaukee (21 years, 340 days).

At the other extreme are Angels designated hitter Raul Ibanez (41 years, 202 days) and Rockies reliever LaTroy Hawkins (41 years, 100 days).

The youngest player in Major League history was Joe Nuxhall, who due to a manpower shortage during World War II, made his debut with Cincinnati at the age of 15 years, 316 days on June 10, 1944. Nuxhall did not get back to the big leagues for more than eight years, but he did pitch in the Majors for 16 years, earning All-Star selections twice and compiling a 135-117 record.

Satchel Paige is the oldest player to appear in a game. He was 59 on Sept. 25, 1965, when he pitched for the Kansas City A's in an effort by owner Charlie Finley to pump up the gate and recognize Kansas City's Negro League history. Paige had retired 12 years earlier.

Pitcher Jack Quinn is the oldest player to appear in a game while still a regular, pitching for the Cincinnati Reds at the age of 50 in 1933. Quinn broke into the big leagues in 1909 and pitched every season through 1933 except 1916-17, when he served in World War I.

The rotation

Five facts from Opening Day:

• Oakland has lost a record 10 consecutive Opening Day games. The old record of nine was set by the New York Giants (1893-1901) and matched by the Atlanta Braves (1972-80).

• Seattle has won eight consecutive Opening Day games, two shy of the record held by the 1887-96 Boston Beaneaters.

Delmon Young became the 12th player to fill the role of DH in the last 12 Opening Day games for Baltimore.

CC Sabathia, who is 88-43 in five-plus seasons with the Yankees, has started all six Opening Day games since signing with the club, but he hasn't had much success. He's 0-3 in the six games (the Yanks are 1-5) with a 7.71 ERA. Sabathia has allowed 44 hits and 17 walks in 32 2/3 innings.

• And the Yankees' starting lineup had only one player in it this season who was in it a year ago, Brett Gardner. He was in left field this year after playing center field in 2013.

Quick hits

• Milwaukee opens the season by playing 16 of its first 19 games against teams that were in the postseason a year ago and won at least 94 regular-season games -- Atlanta (three), Boston (three), Pittsburgh (seven) and St. Louis (three). The lone exception? Three games against Philadelphia, which was 73-99 in 2013.

• Right-hander Juan Nicasio is 6-0 in 11 career April starts after firing seven strong innings in the Rockies' 12-2 victory against the D-backs on Friday. Lance Lynn of St. Louis, who is 9-0 in April, is the only other pitcher to debut in the last 100 years to make at least 10 starts in April without a defeat. Next best? Babe Ruth was 13-1 and Yu Darvish is 9-1, according to Stats Inc.

• Returning after being suspended for the final 65 games of last season, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun opened the season 1-for-16 at the plate after going 0-for-5 in the team's 6-2 win over the Red Sox on Friday. Braun, who did hit .417 during Spring Training, has not homered since May 22, 2013.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for
Read More: CC Sabathia, Justin Morneau, Ryan Braun, Juan Nicasio, Bryce Harper, Delmon Young