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Notes: Woodward returns to Toronto

Notes: Woodward returns to Toronto

NEW YORK -- The return to Toronto holds special meaning for Chris Woodward. Woodward started his career with the Blue Jays and played in Toronto for six years from 1999-2004. He also had his most productive game as a pro with three home runs and four RBIs on August 7, 2002, against the Mariners.

But the trip back to Toronto carries extra perspective as Toronto was the place where Woodward met his wife, Erin, and where the couple's daughter, Sophie, was born.

Woodward particularly recalled the circumstances surrounding the wedding which took place on October 6, 2001. The 29-year-old second baseman described how the wedding had been originally planned for late in November but then was rescheduled due to the health of Erin's father, who was terminally ill with brain cancer.

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"We wanted to make sure her dad saw the wedding, so we completely changed all the plans," said Woodward, who grew up in California and attended Mt. San Antonio College in the Golden State.

But, then, the tragic events of September 11 happened and, because Major League Baseball postponed games for several days, it moved the end of the season back a week, which coincided with the weekend of the wedding.

"We had to scramble for hotel rooms and it got hectic because we still had three games to play," said Woodward. "It also left me in a bit of a conflict with the games. My family had already flown in from California and we had paid for the wedding site."

The only thing Woodward could do was approach Buck Martinez, who was the Blue Jays manager at the time.

For Woodward, it was somewhat awkward, considering he was only in his second full year in the big leagues and he wasn't sure what his skipper would say.

"He reacted really cool," said Woodward. "He understood the situation and he told me to take the rest of the weekend off, considering we were like 30 games out of first place or something like that."

Woodward missed the game on that Saturday but decided to make the Sunday game, which was the last of the season and the day Tony Fernandez retired from baseball.

"I think I surprised Buck because when I walked into the locker room the next day, he kind of did a double take, like, 'How the heck is he here?'" said Woodward, who said he only got two hours of sleep from the night before. "I really didn't expect to play that day, I just wanted to be there with the team."

In the ninth inning, the Blue Jays rallied against the Indians -- after Fernandez had tipped his hat to the crowd in his final at-bat and started his postgame shower.

When Fernandez's turn to bat came in the ninth, Martinez called Woodward to pinch-hit.

"That was the first time I picked up a bat that day and I had to face John Rocker," said Woodward. "The first time I swung, let's just say, it wasn't pretty. But I did end up getting a walk. Which was pretty good, considering -- especially against Rocker."

Floyd slowly coming along: Mets manager Willie Randolph said that Cliff Floyd (sprained left ankle) could play in a rehabilitation game as soon as Thursday night, serving as a designated hitter for Class A St. Lucie in the Florida State League.

Floyd has not played since he was injured running the bases on June 6 at Los Angeles. Randolph said he remained hopeful Floyd would be able to join the team in Toronto.

"The key now is just to get him in action," Randolph said.

The past meets the Future: Gary Carter, who manages St. Lucie, has been selected as the manager of the U.S. Team in the XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game on July 9 in Pittsburgh. The St. Lucie Mets clinched the first-half championship of the Florida State League's Eastern Division with a 5-2 win over Brevard County on Wednesday.

¡Viva la musica!: Shea Stadium will host its first concert in three years on Saturday, the first since Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played three sold-out shows in October 2003 to end their 2002-03 world tour.

The concert -- "¡Que Viva el Merengue en el Shea!" -- will feature Johnny Ventura, Fernando Villalona, Sergio Vargas, Los Hermanos Rosario, and Peña Suazo. It is the first of a series of three concerts that highlight Hispanic-themed programs and initiatives by the Mets. The two other concerts, Merengue Night on July 21 and Hispanic Heritage Night on August 25, will follow Mets games against the Astros and the Phillies, respectively.

There have been several concerts at Shea Stadium since the first major outdoor stadium concert on August 15, 1965, when the Beatles rocked a crowd of 60,000. Shea has also hosted other rock-n-roll legends including the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Police and Eric Clapton.

Tickets for "¡Que Viva el Merengue!" start at $17 and are on sale now at 507TIXX.com, on the phone at (718) 507-TIXX, and at the Shea Stadium ticket windows. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Quotable: "It's a cool place to play, but it's way too cold to live there," said Carlos Delgado, when asked if he still has a house in Toronto. "Hey man, the winters there are freezing cold."

Up next: Tom Glavine makes his third trip to Toronto in his career. Glavine's first appearance at the Rogers Centre -- formerly known as SkyDome -- came in the fourth game of the 1992 World Series, when Glavine was with the Braves. Rookie right-hander Casey Janssen takes the mound for Toronto on Friday at 7:07 p.m. ET.

Chris Girandola is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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