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Canadian All-Star Michael Saunders reacts to anthem incident

The only Canadian in the All-Star Game was unaware of the incident before reporters notified him.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO — All-Star Game festivities got off to a controversial start Tuesday night, when a member of The Tenors, a Canadian group performing the Canadian national anthem, altered the song’s lyrics.

Remigio Pereira, who was later identified by the group as a “lone wolf” who altered his solo without consulting the other members of the group, changed "with glowing hearts we see thee rise/the True North strong and free" to "we're all brothers and sisters/all lives matter to the brave” during the song.

The incident immediately sparked outrage on social media, though the only Canadian-born player in the All-Star Game, Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders, was not aware of the incident until reporters notified him in the clubhouse post-game.

“I liked it,” Saunders said when initially asked what he thought of the performance. “That was one of the better anthems I’ve actually ever heard. I enjoyed that one.”

Reporters then told Saunders of the incident involving The Tenors, but he said he was too locked in to notice the change at the time.

“I was singing it in my head,” Saunders said. “I was caught up in the moment, just signing the anthem. I was listening to Eddie [Edwin Encarnacion] singing it. He sings the Canadian anthem every time. I must have just been caught up in the moment. I didn’t even realize that.”

Saunders said that he appreciated Pereira’s willingness to stand up for his own beliefs, though was less enthusiastic about the singer’s decision to alter the lyrics.

“It’s an anthem, right?” Saunders said. “It’s written. He obviously held up the sign, and that meant a lot. You have to appreciate his beliefs, and his right. That was his way, I guess, of doing what he had to do.”

“It was about his message that he wanted to send, which is a great message, obviously,” Saunders said. “He felt like he needed to send that message during the anthem.”

Saunders did not take offense at the incident once notified, though expressed pride at being the only Canadian in the All-Star Game.

“I’m a very proud Canadian,” Saunders said. “The Canadian national anthem means something to me. He did what he thought was right and what he had to do to promote what he was promoting. That was his decision.”

In a statement released during the game, The Tenors apologized for the incident and said Pereira would “not be performing with the group until further notice.”