Blue Jays set to visit fans in annual Winter Tour

Blue Jays set to visit fans in annual Winter Tour

SAN DIEGO -- The Blue Jays' Winter Tour is set to make its annual return in January, with stops in Toronto, Calgary, Banff and Vancouver.

The cross-country tour was created in 2011 under the guidance of president Paul Beeston and senior vice president of business operations Stephen Brooks. It was based on the caravan tour that Toronto did throughout the late 1970s and early '80s.

The list of players that will be taking part this year is impressive. Jose Bautista, R.A. Dickey, Russell Martin, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are just a few of the players who will be making some of the stops.

The Winter Tour begins Jan. 16 in Toronto. After dropping by the BT Toronto studios, the Blue Jays will visit the Josh Creek Public School and the Ronald McDonald House. On Jan. 17, the club will hold an autograph session at the Toronto Eaton Centre. Bautista, Dickey, Aaron Loup, Todd Redmond and Dalton Pompey are expected to be in attendance.

The Blue Jays will then head west, with stops in Calgary from Jan. 20-22. Toronto's contingent will visit the Alberta Children Hospital and also hold an autograph session at CrossIron Mills Mall. From there, the Blue Jays will head to Banff and participate in an elementary school trip at Banff National Park. Stroman, Sanchez, Kevin Pillar, Drew Hutchison and Roberto Alomar will be involved in that leg of the tour.

On Jan. 23, Martin is set to join Stroman, Sanchez and Hutchison at the fifth annual Vancouver Canadians Luncheon in support of the Vancouver Canadians Foundation, Little League Baseball and Challenger Baseball. The Blue Jays will then hold a youth baseball training clinic, where those four players will host a three-hour clinic for 80 amateur baseball players aged 10-14.

The tour's final stop is Jan. 24, with an autograph session at Metropolis at Metrotown in Vancouver. Martin, Stroman, Sanchez and Alomar also are expected to be at that event.

The focus of this year's tour will take part in Western Canada. Last year, Toronto spent most of its time in Ontario, while in years past, the club also put an emphasis on the Maritimes and Eastern Canada. The trend is expected to continue in future years as well, with different regions being a focus on the very popular event.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.