My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
- Scarborough, Ont., native George Kottaras was designated for assignment by the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday after the club signed veteran backstop A.J. Pierzynski. Kottaras, who had managed just six plate appearances since landing with the Cards on July 11, was initially picked up to help replace all-star catcher Yadier Molina, who’s out eight-to-12 weeks with a torn thumb ligament. Kottaras, who has played in parts of seven big league campaigns, has hit .269 with three homers in 33 plate appearances this season with the Cardinals and Cleveland Indians.
- The Toronto Blue Jays may have found their second baseman of the future. His name is Jose Reyes. Judging by the number of throws Reyes has bounced to first base this season, the Jays should consider flip-flopping Reyes and Ryan Goins in 2015. Goins is an excellent fielder and a natural shortstop who has played 519 minor league games at the position. To be fair, Reyes has helped carry the Jays offensively in recent weeks and they definitely need his bat in the lineup.
- Barry Bonds, turned 50 on Thursday and few tribute columns were written about baseball’s “home run king.” That’s probably because of exchanges like this one that he had with veteran sportswriter Jeff Bradley, who once asked the temperamental slugger what it was like to hit a home run and know it’s gone. Bonds responded, “Why does it matter? You’ll never be able to do it.” Bradley: “That’s kind of the point of asking.” Bonds: “It’s called talent. I’ve got it, you don’t.”
- Major League Baseball can be a cruel business. Canadian right-hander Chris Leroux (Montreal, Que.) was recalled by the New York Yankees on Thursday, only to be designated for assignment on Friday when the Bombers acquired left-hander Chris Capuano from Colorado. The 30-year-old Leroux pitched in two games earlier in the season for the Yankees and is 2-2 with a 5.08 ERA in six starts for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
- The ever witty Mark Teahen (Canadian citizen) had this to say on Twitter (@ESPY_TEAHEN) about the Final Vote for the all-star game in which five selected players from each league were encouraged to rally their fans to vote for them for the last roster spot on the respective teams: “Today your tweeting productivity is more valued than @MLB players’ on-field productivity. #SeemsLogical #FinalVote.”
- Forty-two years ago yesterday, Chatham, Ont., native Fergie Jenkins tossed the first one-hitter of his big league career to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium. Jenkins struck out five in his complete-game effort that took just one hour and 58 minutes to play. The only hit that the Phillies registered was a fourth-inning double by Willie Montanez. This was the first of three one-hitters that Jenkins tossed during his Hall of Fame career.
- For the most part, the Blue Jays have done an excellent job with their young pitchers this season. Drew Hutchison, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez have all performed admirably. That’s why the club’s decision to designate for assignment then trade 2010 first-round pick Deck McGuire to the Oakland A’s for cash considerations is a head scratcher. On July 17, McGuire was designated for assignment and replaced on the Jays’ roster by soft-throwing, 29-year-old lefty Brad Mills, who was shelled for eight runs in two innings by the Boston Red Sox before being designated for assignment himself. Yes, McGuire is 25 now and he has struggled in Triple-A (5.56 ERA in 10 starts) this season, but he’s also a 6-foot-6, 220-pound right-hander, who had a 2.98 ERA in 10 Double-A starts earlier in the season. The A’s excel at identifying good, young pitching, so I have a feeling that McGuire will surface as a solid big league starter in the future. But what do I know?