Malo can and will play anywhere in WBC

NDLR Malheureusement, pour le moment, la traduction de ce très intéressant texte n’est pas disponible

Revue de presse

By Kevin Glew, Canadian Baseball Network, le 6 mars 2013/

Cooperstowners in Canada

Jonathan Malo

Jonathan Malo will be Canada’s Johnny Mac during the World Baseball Classic.

The smooth-fielding Quebec native possesses skills similar to those of former Toronto Blue Jays’ utility man John McDonald.

Photo ci-dessus : INF Jonathan Malo (St-Roch-de-l’Achigan, Que.) was signed by legendary scout Claude Pelletier and has become a fixture with Team Canada teams. Photo: Baseball Canada. ….

“To me, Jonathan is probably one of the best infielders that Canada has ever had,” said Canadian manager Ernie Whitt. “He’s a tremendous defender. He has very trustworthy hands and is an accurate thrower. He knows how to play the game and he does all the things that as a manager, I ask him to do. He’ll sacrifice bunt. He’ll hit and run. He’ll hit behind a runner. He’s a really good baseball man.”

Like McDonald, the 29-year-old Malo is an affable, blue-collar-type player that you can’t help but cheer for. He says he’s prepared to do whatever is required of him in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), slated to begin for Canada on Friday when they take on Italy in Phoenix, Az.

“On every senior (national) team, I’ve ever played on, I’ve always played shortstop, but I can play pretty much any position,” said Malo in a recent phone interview. “If I’m not starting, I’ll be ready for whatever they ask me to do, whether it’s a late-inning baserunning situation or a defensive substitution. I’ll do everything I can to help the team win.”

And having Malo on the team should be a good omen for the Canadian squad, which has failed to advance out of the first round in the two previous World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Malo has won three international medals while suiting up for his country. After collecting bronze medals at the Baseball World Cup in 2009 and 2011, Malo was part of the Canadian squad that won gold at the Pan Am Games in 2011. That team was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.

“The gold medal at the Pan Am Games has definitely been the highlight of my international career,” said Malo. “That was such a big tournament for us. We beat the U.S. twice in that one and those were two big wins. I’m taking good care of that gold medal.”

Malo is also one of 13 players on the WBC roster that also played for Canada in the WBC qualification tournament in Germany last September.

“We all knew coming into the qualifier that it didn’t mean that we were going to be on the team for the actual World Baseball Classic,” said Malo. “So it was really exciting news when I got the call from (director of national teams for Baseball Canada) Greg Hamilton.”

Competing in an international event like the WBC against the best players in the world was something that Malo could’ve only dreamed about as a kid. Growing up in St-Roch-de-l’Achigan, Que., Malo started playing ball when he was five. His love for the sport was instilled in him by his dad, Jocelyn.

An infielder who pitched periodically in minor baseball, Malo was an Expos fan who followed players like Spike Owen, Delino DeShields and Mike Lansing, but his favorite player was Maple Ridge, B.C. native Larry Walker, who will serve as a hitting coach and first base coach with the WBC squad.

Bolstered by a strong work ethic and a relentless desire to be on the diamond, Malo was selected to play for the junior national team and attend the Baseball Canada training academy from 2000 to 2002. It was around that time that he caught the eye of veteran New York Mets scout Claude Pelletier, who had grown enamored with Malo’s versatility and passion for the game.

“He was a great kid. One of his coaches told me at one point that he wanted to adopt him,” recalled Pelletier in a January 2012 interview. “I told him that Jonathan already has two parents.”

With Pelletier’s endorsement, the Mets drafted Malo in 2002 (40th round) and 2003 (48th round), but the young infielder opted to go to college rather than sign. In 2003, he attended Miami-Dade College, followed by a year at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in 2004. He finally agreed to sign with the Mets after that school year.

He began his pro career with the short-season New York Penn League Brooklyn Cyclones in 2005, before being promoted to high-A St. Lucie later that year. He was promoted to double-A Binghamton in 2008 and made his triple-A debut for Buffalo in 2009.

“In 2009, I wasn’t invited to big league spring training, but I ended up spending the last two weeks of camp getting to work out in a group with (new Toronto Blue Jays shortstop) Jose Reyes,” said Malo. “He’s a pretty impressive player. As a middle infielder, it’s always fun to watch guys like that. David Wright was there too, so it’s going to be fun to see him again with Team USA (in the WBC).”

In 2011, Malo split his final season in the Mets organization between double-A Binghamton and triple-A Buffalo, before suiting up with the Quebec Capitales of the independent Canadian-American Association last season. Playing professionally in his home province for the first time, Malo hit .288 and socked 12 homers in 95 games for the Capitales.

“It was the first time in a long time that I got to play every day and it makes a big difference to know you’re going to be in the lineup no matter what. There’s a lot less pressure on your shoulders,” Malo said of his season with the Capitales.

“I had a blast in Quebec. The organization there is great. They’ve done a great job and they get a lot of fans out to their games. The atmosphere at the stadium was great and just being close to home was a lot of fun. My family could come and watch whenever they wanted.”

But Malo hopes his success in independent ball last season, combined with his participation in the WBC, might help him land him a contract in the affiliated pro ranks this season.

“I’m still a free agent,” said Malo. “I hope it (the WBC) kind of opens some doors.”

Set to turn 30 this September, Malo realizes that he’ll have to make a decision about whether or not to continue his playing career soon.

“You don’t make tons of money in the minors,” said Malo, who resides in Joliette, Que. “That’s something I’ve got to think about pretty soon. I’ve got to think about a Plan B.”

That Plan B could be coaching. Malo spent this off-season assisting at various baseball clinics and academies in Quebec.

“Coaching is definitely something I would think about,” said Malo. “If I can stay around the game and make a living out of it, I’d like to do that.”

But before he makes that decision, Malo plans to savour the opportunity he has to play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic with many teammates that are like brothers to him.

“We’re always trying to have the best team spirit around,” said Malo of the national teams he has been a part of. “That’s going to help us get through tough times. And if someone messes up, you want the next guy to get it done for the team. We all want each other to do well.”

Revue de presse publiée par Jacques Lanciault.

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