6/12/2013 1:51 A.M. ET
Finalists for 'Tribute for Heroes' announced
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Three Canadians have been named as finalists in the Major League Baseball and People magazine Tribute for Heroes campaign.
The Tribute for Heroes is a national initiative that recognizes veterans and military service members and builds on a commitment to honor heroes in both Canada and the United States.
One winner from each of the 30 MLB clubs will be included in the All-Star Game festivities and recognized during the pregame ceremony on July 16th at Citi Field. The game will be televised in Canada on Sportsnet.
The three candidates for the Blue Jays are Paul Franco (Toronto), Nicholas Kerr (Victoria, British Columbia) and James Storey (Calgary, Alberta).
Franco has served as a member of the Canadian Forces for 12 years. He served in Afghanistan with 1 RCR in Task Force 3-06 and was involved in Operation Medusa, one of the largest battles Canada has engaged in since the Korean War. He received a Commanders Unit Commendation for OPs Medusa and the Top Soldier's commendation with the Toronto Scottish Regiment.
Kerr is a Medal of Bravery nominee for saving a civilian's life after a car accident. As a member of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, he won several Canadian Forces National Sports awards. After Afghanistan, the artillery chose the decorated infantryman -- a first -- to join Avalanche Control Operation Palaci (AVCON).
Storey served in the Canadian Armed Forces for almost 25 years, and he's helping his fellow veterans by raising awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He enlisted in 1988, and by 2008 was promoted to Saergeant, receiving Non-Article 5 Peacekeeping medals for tours in the former Yugoslavia and Bosnia, and the Canadian Forces Decoration with clasp.
Fans are encouraged to visit TributeForHeroes.com to vote for their favorite stories through June 30.
Reyes to continue running program at Dunedin
CHICAGO -- Jose Reyes will embark on the next phase of his rehab program when he heads to the Blue Jays' Minor League complex on Wednesday.
Toronto's shortstop is expected to continue his running program in Dunedin, Fla., before appearing in simulated games on Friday and Saturday.
There's still isn't a predetermined time frame for his return, but all signs point to him being back in the Major Leagues before the end of June.
"Hitting is good and the last time, ground balls, I thought it was going to be an issue, but it wasn't an issue at all because I was moving side to side, going back on popups and stuff like that," Reyes said. "That was a big test for me that I passed, so I'm free to go. I'm going to go to Florida and start my rehab as soon as possible."
Reyes has displayed a lot of improvement in the past couple of weeks while rehabbing alongside his teammates. He started with basic running drills, light hitting and fielding ground balls that didn't require lateral movement.
The 30-year-old has since increased the intensity of his workouts. He has been fielding grounders to each side of his body, turning double plays and becoming a regular participant in batting practice.
Reyes also achieved another goal on Tuesday by going through several drills running first to third. That was one of his biggest obstacles to overcome before being cleared because of the pressure it puts on his ankle.
"It feels good," said Reyes, who will wear an ankle brace for the rest of his career. "My ankle is still a little bit tight because that's the way it is. I wish I could be loose enough but that's the way it is, that's something I have to deal with."
Even though Reyes is taking another step in the right direction, that doesn't mean his return is necessarily imminent. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons estimated that the Dominican native could need upwards of two weeks of rehab games before rejoining the Blue Jays.
That would seem a little high, but at the same time Reyes is essentially having to start Spring Training all over again because of his prolonged absence.
Another big test for Reyes will come when he starts facing live pitching. He will need to get his timing at the plate before the Blue Jays opt to put him back into the starting lineup on a daily basis.
"I didn't play for two months so when you don't play for that long you're going to lose some stuff," said Reyes, who was hitting .395 in 10 games this season. "But at least I've been hitting BP the last two weeks, working on my swing but the big thing is going to be facing live pitching. That's when I'm going to know where my swing's at, but other than that everything feels good."
Surging Lind gets rare start against lefty
CHICAGO -- Adam Lind's recent performance at the plate apparently has been enough to convince Blue Jays manager John Gibbons to use him against left-handers.
Lind has spent most of this season sitting on the bench when the opposing team starts a lefty. That changed at least temporarily on Tuesday night with Jose Quintana on the mound for the White Sox.
The move paid immediate dividends as Lind had two hits off Quintana and another one against lefty Matt Thornton during the Blue Jays' 7-5 victory over Chicago.
"Just not trying too hard," Lind said when asked of his approach against lefties this year. "Take a nice easy path to the ball and hopefully hit it on the barrel. Hopefully the pitch is over the plate, too, that makes it easier."
Whether or not there has been a lot of strategy to it, Lind has been able to find a way to hit lefties in a very small sample size this year. He's now batting .500 (11-for-22) with a homer and three doubles against southpaws this season in limited action.
On the surface those numbers are impressive, but for his career Lind is just a .226 hitter with a .621 OBPS against left-handers.
When informed of his numbers this year, though, Lind couldn't help but laugh and crack a smile.
"That's great, hopefully it can continue, and if it does I'll continue to play," said Lind, who went 3-for-4 with a double on Tuesday night.
Lind's had at least one hit in 14 of the past 15 games he started. Since May 10, he was batting .392 (38-for-97) entering Tuesday's game, which leads the Major Leagues and raises his season average by .97 points from .238 to .335.
Shortstop Munenori Kawasaki also got a rare start against a lefty on Tuesday night. With right-hander Chien-Ming Wang on the mound for Toronto, Gibbons wanted to put his best defense on the field because of his tendency to induce a lot of ground balls.
Kawasaki was unable to come through against Quintana, but he did manage an RBI double in the 10th inning to provide the Blue Jays with an insurance run.
• As expected, right-hander Chien-Ming Wang was officially signed by the Blue Jays in time to make Tuesday night's start against the White Sox. Wang opted out of a Minor League deal with the Yankees to join Toronto after going 4-4 with a 2.33 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Scranton.
• Third baseman Andy LaRoche was designated for assignment to make room for Wang on the 25-man roster. LaRoche appeared in just one game for the Blue Jays this season and went hitless in four at-bats.