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Lightning's Stamkos hits, fields with Blue Jays

NHL.com @NHL

When it comes to baseball, Steven Stamkos would rather play defense.

The Tampa Bay Lightning captain worked out with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, taking infield and batting practice prior to their game against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre.

"I think I was more excited to field the balls than to hit them," Stamkos told The Canadian Press. "I've taken BP before, but to actually get on the field and field balls and throw them, that was pretty fun."

Stamkos said he was a baseball player as a teenager before choosing hockey full-time.

"At around 13-14, the age where as a Canadian kid you had to pick one sport [to focus on], that was when baseball was becoming an all-around thing and I obviously wanted to play hockey," Stamkos said. "But I still love the sport to this day and try to get to as many games as possible.

"I play fantasy baseball with guys on our team; I just love the sport and love being around it."

Stamkos, 25, was a toddler when the Blue Jays last made the Major League Baseball playoffs, winning the second of back-to-back World Series championships in 1993. Toronto entered the weekend leading the AL East.

Stamkos was able to reconnect with Toronto pitcher David Price, who played for the Tampa Bay Rays.

"My rookie year was when they went to the World Series (2008), so I got to go to those games, which was an unbelievable atmosphere," he said. "The support for [Price] has been pretty amazing from the fans here in Toronto. Obviously the team's doing great and he's off to a great start with the team.

"These guys are having a blast. Any time you can play meaningful games down the stretch, that's the most fun."

Stamkos is from Markham, Ontario, about 20 miles from Rogers Centre. He's entering the final year of his contract and could become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

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