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Sports Vancouver Canadians return to Nat Bailey stadium this spring

07:21  07 april  2022
07:21  07 april  2022 Source:   cbc.ca

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After a three-year hiatus, the Vancouver Canadians have returned to the Nat Bailey Stadium to prepare for the upcoming season.

The team took the field last year, but had to play the whole season on the road — in a Portland suburb — due to COVID-19.

Team manager Brent Lavallee, who grew up in North Delta, joined the team in 2020 but the season was cancelled as the COVID-19 pandemic took off.

"Being here in this city and this stadium it means a lot to myself, to my family," he said

"This place has a special place in my heart."

Vancouver Canadians manager Brent Lavallee says he's excited to return to the team's home field this season. © Ben Nelms/CBC Vancouver Canadians manager Brent Lavallee says he's excited to return to the team's home field this season.

The team's new play-by-play announcer, Tyler Zickel, also joined the team during its Nat Bailey stadium hiatus.

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The team brought him on in 2021, and he did his job from Portland. He moved to Vancouver less than a month ago.

"To have this opportunity to be here in person at this most storied building, I'm just so touched and grateful," he said.

The team was forced to play all their home games in the U.S. last season because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. © Ben Nelms/CBC The team was forced to play all their home games in the U.S. last season because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The team is affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays, and this year's roster features six of the Jays' top 30 prospects, including 20-year-old infielder Lep Jiminez, who Zickel says is the one to watch.

"He's going to be electric to watch," Zickel said.

Players from the Vancouver Canadians baseball team practice ahead of their return to Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver on April 5. © Ben Nelms/CBC Players from the Vancouver Canadians baseball team practice ahead of their return to Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver on April 5.

Fifteen players on the 2022 team are returning from 2021.

The 2022 season begins April 8, as the Canadians take on Spokane in a three-game series. The first game at Nat Bailey stadium is April 19 against the Eugene Giants.

More than half the team has returned from last season. © Ben Nelms/CBC More than half the team has returned from last season.

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