Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fish short on local talent

Visiting Quebec team has plenty of homegrowns on roster

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Quebec Capitales manager Patrick Scalabrini feels right at home in Shaw Park.

The former Winnipeg Goldeyes player is here with his Quebec City team from the Can-Am League to take on the Goldeyes in an interleague series.

It's a battle of the heavyweights, too. Both teams won their respective league championships in 2012 and Scalabrini knows Goldeyes manager Rick Forney has brought in some powerful players since.

"I know they're really strong. Rick did a great job signing some players. I've personally went after a few of these guys and we weren't able to sign them," Scalabrini said.

"They just won a great series against Wichita so I know it's going to be very difficult and it's going to be very difficult when they come to Quebec. It's the end of our big road trip. We're heading back home after that so we just want to steal one or two and go home with a big smile."

Scalabrini was born in Coaticook, Que., and is now managing a baseball team from his home province. But he isn't the only Quebecois on the Capitales roster.

In fact, seven of the team's 23-man roster (including inactive and disabled players) hails from the province.

The Goldeyes, meanwhile, have no native Manitobans on their 21-member roster.

Forney would be interested in signing more local players, but unlike Quebec, the depth of the talent pool isn't quite there yet.

"We look around, but there's not enough Manitoba players who can fit the bill here in this league," Forney said. "I think they have some more baseball going on there at the youth level. I can't say for sure, but they have a few more guys that are playing professional baseball, so maybe their developmental program is a little bit further along than Manitoba's is at this point. We always look for Canadian players or homegrown talent, it's just not there yet."

Capitales manager Scalabrini tries his best to keep all of the upcoming local talent in Quebec. A locker-room with French speakers is good for team chemistry.

"It helps with the chemistry because we're a family in Quebec," he said. "One of the reasons why we've been successful is that guys like each other and they like playing with each other. It's just good to try and keep the local guys like that," said Scalabrini. "I try my best to keep all of the local talent close. I know the guys from the area that are playing professionally right now and I keep a close eye on their careers."

The reasoning goes beyond the baseball diamond. Just like Goldeyes players serve as role models for children in the community, Francophone players do the same in Quebec.

"It's easier for kids and for guys in Quebec to have people that speak French. Guys that have been around, to hang around and chat with the kids after games and all of that stuff, so it's very important to us," said Scalabrini.

kyle. jahns@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 15, 2013 C2

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