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Jays reward Delgado

Will be added to club's Level of Excellence next summer

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TORONTO -- Carlos Delgado rewrote the Toronto Blue Jays' record book in 12 seasons with the team.

He'll be rewarded for his efforts next summer when he's added to the club's Level of Excellence.

Delgado becomes the 10th person to be honoured with the team award. An on-field ceremony will be held July 21 before Toronto's game against Tampa Bay.

"Not only was he one of the best hitters in club history, he was one of the finest first basemen of his generation," team president Paul Beeston said Friday in a release. "More importantly, Carlos was a tremendous ambassador for the Blue Jays organization and the city of Toronto.

"His fun-loving attitude was infectious and his tireless work in the community were truly his greatest assets."

Delgado made his first appearance with the Blue Jays in 1993, the year of their last World Series title. He registered one at-bat and played two games that season before becoming one of the team's top offensive threats a few years later.

"I always said that I wanted to play the game the right way," he said on a conference call. "I wanted to represent myself and my team in a very professional manner and I tried to do that."

Delgado went on to become the franchise leader in several offensive categories including home runs (336), RBIs (1,058), walks (827), slugging percentage (.556), OPS (.949), runs (889), total bases (2,786), doubles (343), extra-base hits (690) and intentional walks (128).

He said he had several highlight moments over his career with the Jays, including his first Opening Day with the team in 1994 and his four-homer night in 2003. The two-time all-star (2000, 2003) also holds several team single-season records.

Delgado, who is married and has two children, still works out regularly and is active with his community work in his native Puerto Rico.

He had one of his best seasons with Toronto in 2003, hitting .302 with 145 RBIs and 42 home runs. He finished second to Alex Rodriguez in voting for the American League MVP award that year.

Delgado also won the Hank Aaron Award and Sporting News Player of the Year Award in 2000 and the Silver Slugger Award in 1999, 2000, and 2003.

The Level of Excellence award recognizes individual achievement. Previous recipients include Beeston, Dave Stieb, George Bell, Joe Carter, Cito Gaston, Tony Fernandez, Pat Gillick, Tom Cheek and Roberto Alomar.

"This is a tremendous honour," Delgado said. "When I became a Blue Jay I never thought an honour of this nature would be possible. I am grateful to the Blue Jays organization and feel truly honoured to receive this recognition."

Delgado, 40, also played for the Florida Marlins (2005) and New York Mets (2006-2009). He battled hip problems late in his career and officially retired in April 2011.

He finished with 473 career home runs and a .280 career batting average. Delgado's only post-season appearance came in 2006, when the Mets lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 8, 2012 C5

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