Duforest played for France at Europeans

Revue de Web

By Melissa Couto, Canadian Baseball Network, 26 septembre 2013

Équipe junior de France 2013

Jonathan Duforest isn’t old enough to vote, but he’s already a veteran of international baseball.

This summer, the 17-year-old traveled to Prague from his home in Kirkland, Que., a suburb of Montreal, to represent France at the 2013 European Junior Championships.

Under the Rogers Centre lights at the Tournament 12 showcase this weekend, Duforest smiled as he recalled his experience in Europe.

But if he ever has to choose between the blue and white French uniform or the Canadian maple leaf, that, he says, will be no contest.

“I’d play for Canada, no doubt about it,” said Duforest, a catcher for the Quebec Blue team at Toronto’s inaugural T12 event.

“I’m Canadian and I love this country. I’m proud of my French heritage, and I might have a French passport, but to me, Canada is what’s tattooed on my heart.”

Duforest flew to Paris last year to help the 18-under squad qualify for the championship, and spent another week in the French capital training with his teammates before traveling to Prague in July.

France finished eighth in the 10-team tournament, with Italy, Czech Republic and the Netherlands taking first, second, and third place respectively.

The outcome may not have been what he wanted, but Duforest was glad to have been a part of it.

“It was really cool to experience European baseball,” he said. “North American players, we think we have a leg up on them, but I’m telling you, we have to watch out.

“They have some real players over there and the competition is a lot stiffer than you’d think.”

Thomas Duforest, Jonathan’s father, was born in Angers, France but moved to Canada when he was seven years old.

Though he identifies himself as Canadian, Thomas says having his son represent the nation in which he was born invoked “great pride.”

“I was young when I left, but Jonathan is a French citizen too,” he said. “Having him go back there and be able to represent his country, that’s very special.”

The younger Duforest credits his dad — who played at a competitive level until a knee injury forced him from the game at age 21 — with getting him into baseball in the first place.

He remembers playing catch, practicing hitting, and of course, driving 30 kilometres up the Trans-Canada Highway to Olympic Stadium to watch his beloved Expos with his father.

Thinking about Montreal’s former team brings back sad memories for Jonathan, who was eight years old when the Expos played their final game in the city — with the Duforest family in the stands.

“I was young when they left, but I understood what was happening and it was very sad,” he said. “It hurt baseball, not only in Montreal, but in Quebec in general. A lot of people lost interest in the game, and it was bad for kids playing, too.

“When the Expos were here we’d get scouts coming into Montreal to check out the big leaguers for trades and what not and sometimes they’d stop by to check out the local talent, which helped give the area exposure. When they left, that really hurt us.”

The only Quebec product to be selected in last June’s amateur draft was Charles LeBlanc, an infielder from Laval who was picked by the Brewers in the 33rd round.

Duforest says there’s enough elite talent in Quebec to garner more attention and he hopes Tournament 12, which had two teams representing the province, will help with that.

“Obviously B.C. and Ontario are recognized as the big powerhouses in Canada, but you look here and Quebec has two teams,” he said. “I think we’re underrated because we’re different.

“Guys from Ontario and B.C., they tend to be bigger, more powerful. We’re a bit smaller in Quebec but we’re a lot scrappier. I think it’s because Quebec is the underdog, we have to fight a little harder.”

Through four games at T12, Duforest went 2-for-8 with one walk, four strikeouts and two RBIs — one of which came in Quebec Blue’s seventh-inning comeback attempt in the tournament final against the Maritimes.

Duforest, who also represented Quebec at the Canada Games in Sherbrooke this August, is eligible for the 2014 draft. He says he’s leaning toward college, but admits he’s often wondered what being selected by a pro ball team would feel like.

“It’s definitely been on my mind,” he said. “School is really important to me, but it would be a dream come true, that’s for sure.”

Regardless of what happens next June, Thomas Duforest is proud of what his son has already accomplished.

“He’s played in Europe, at the Canada Games, at Tournament 12, these are all things I didn’t have access to; I didn’t have a chance to do what he’s doing,” the elder Duforest said.

“To see him do so much at such a young age and to excel — not just in training but in managing school, social life and baseball — that’s impressive. It makes my wife and I very, very proud.”

Revue de presse publiée par Jacques Lanciault.

Commentaires (0) Trackbacks (0)

Aucun commentaire pour l'instant

Laisser un commentaire

Aucun trackbacks pour l'instant