But What Do I Know? . . . Chris Leroux, Melky Cabrera, Joey Votto

Canadian Baseball Card of the Week: 1988 O-Pee-Chee Rob Ducey. One of Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame's class of 2013, Ducey was born in Toronto, Ont., but raised in Cambridge. Born in Toronto in 1965, Ducey was raised in Cambridge, Ont. The left-handed hitting outfielder was signed as a free agent by the Blue Jays in 1984. After being named MVP of the Rookie Ball Medicine Hat Blue Jays that year, he rose through the organization’s ranks to make his big league debut on May 1, 1987. His first major league homer came on September 14, 1987 in a contest in which the Jays clubbed a big league record 10 round-trippers to defeat the Orioles 18-3. The talented Canadian suited up for parts of five more seasons with the Jays, prior to being dealt to the Angels in 1992. Tenures with the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies would follow, as well as a two-year stint in the Japanese Pacific League with the Nippon Ham Fighters in 1995 and 1996 that saw him belt 51 home runs. He returned to Toronto for five games in 2000 and saw his final big league action with the Montreal Expos in 2001, making him the second Canadian (along with Denis Boucher) to start his major league career with the Jays and end it with the Expos. Ducey is also one of only four Canadians (Boucher, Shawn Hill and Matt Stairs are the others) to suit up for both the Jays and Expos. In all, Ducey played 19 seasons in professional baseball, making him one of just 12 Canadians to do so.  Following his professional career, Ducey competed for Canada at the 2004 Olympics and served as a coach at the 2006 World Baseball Classic and 2008 Olympics. He has also been a scout for the Blue Jays and is currently working in player development for a Mexican League team.

Canadian Baseball Card of the Week: 1988 O-Pee-Chee Rob Ducey. One of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s class of 2013, Ducey was born in Toronto, but raised in Cambridge, Ont. Signed as a free agent by the Blue Jays in 1984, the left-handed hitting outfielder hit his first major league homer on September 14, 1987 in a contest in which the Jays clubbed a big league record 10 round-trippers. He suited up for parts of five more seasons with the Jays, prior to being dealt to the Angels in 1992. Tenures with the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies followed, before returning to Toronto for five games in 2000. His final big league action came with the Montreal Expos in 2001, making him the second Canadian (along with Denis Boucher) to start his major league career with the Jays and end it with the Expos. Ducey is also one of only four Canadians (Boucher, Shawn Hill and Matt Stairs are the others) to suit up for both the Jays and Expos.

My weekly observations about stories around the baseball world from a Canadian perspective (Please follow me on Twitter @kevinglewsports):

– According to Sportsnet.ca, Montreal native Chris Leroux, who was Canada’s best starting pitcher in this year’s World Baseball Classic, has signed with Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Japan’s Central League. The 29-year-old right-hander had been designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12. The contract reportedly guarantees Leroux $500,000 for this season.

– It may be too early to worry, but Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera has just three extra-base hits since returning from his 50-game suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy last August. Yes, it’s true that Cabrera has never been a true power hitter, but he did record 67 and 46 extra base hits in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

– The Cincinnati Reds, on the other land, no longer have to worry about Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto’s power slump. After going 51 regular season games without a home run (dating back to June 24, 2012), Votto has hit three in his last 10 games.

– Condolences to the family of former Toronto Maple Leafs outfielder Jack Daniels. Nicknamed “Sour Mash Jack” by his teammates because he shared his name with the famous whiskey maker, Daniels suited up for 81 International League games with the Triple-A Leafs in 1957 and belted 10 homers. That season was one of the Chester, Penn., native’s 12 seasons in minor pro ball. His only season in the big leagues came with the Boston Braves in 1952 when he hit .187 in 106 games. He died in Shreveport, La., at the age of 85.

– While the Toronto Blue Jays starting pitching has struggled this season, ex-Jay Carlos Villanueva has quietly posted a 1.53 ERA and permitted just 16 hits in 29-1/3 innings in four starts for the Chicago Cubs.

– Ryan Dempster, the pride of Gibsons, B.C., has had some tough luck to begin his Boston Red Sox tenure. Despite striking out 33 batters in 24 innings and posting a tidy 3.38 ERA, he is 0-2 in four starts.

– If the Jays are looking for offence, why not give Jim Negrych a look at second base at the big league level? The 28-year-old infielder is hitting .500 and has scored 15 runs in 12 games with the the Jays’ Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.

– It appears that former Montreal Expo Claudio Vargas, who has posted a 1.59 ERA in three starts with the Triple-A Bisons, will be called up if R.A. Dickey is forced to miss a start or go on the disabled list for his neck/back issues. If the 34-year-old right-hander is called up by the Jays, he’ll become the 79th player and 24th pitcher to have suited up for both the Expos and the Blue Jays.

– Thanks to Marcel Hubert for pointing me towards this excellent Baseball America article on John Wright, the unheralded black pitcher who was assigned to the Montreal Royals at the same time as Jackie Robinson in 1946.

– If you haven’t already done so, please “LIKE” the Cooperstowners in Canada Facebook page. I update this page regularly with Canadian baseball stories. Thanks for your support.

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2 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? . . . Chris Leroux, Melky Cabrera, Joey Votto

  1. I hope Chris does well over seas. I know he was so pumped to make the opening day roster. Melky was a big risk, let’s hope it pays off by the end of the year.
    And Vott’s OBP is about .500!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks for another great piece Kevin.

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