My weekly observations about stories around the baseball world from a Canadian perspective (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):
– It sure seems like Toronto Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion is accumulating a lot of RBIs this season. That’s because he is. In fact, by my calculation, if he keeps knocking in runs at his current pace, he’ll have 133 at the end of the season. The Blue Jays’ team record is 145, set by Carlos Delgado in 2003.
– When I pointed out that there were three former Montreal Expos on the Blue Jays’ Triple-A pitching staff in Buffalo in a May 11 blog entry, I think I jinxed them. Two of them – Miguel Batista and Clint Everts – have since been released. Only 35-year-old right-hander Claudio Vargas remains and his ERA has ballooned to 5.79.
– There’s good news and bad news about Canadian Justin Morneau’s stat line this season. The good news is that the New Westminster, B.C. native has been relatively healthy, suiting up for 61 of the Twins’ 65 games and is batting .292 with a team-leading 38 RBIs. The bad news is that the likeable Canadian infielder, who has clubbed 206 career home runs, only has two round-trippers this season.
– From the “Whatever happened to …” file: I had almost forgotten about ex-Jay Eric Thames, and apparently so have the Seattle Mariners. The charismatic outfielder, who was traded to the Mariners for Steve Delabar on July 30, 2012, has played the entire 2013 season with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, the Mariners’ Pacific Coast League affiliate. In 57 games, he’s batting .295, owns a .382 on-base percentage and has belted seven homers.
– The Toronto Blue Jays are definitely getting power production from their Triple-A first basemen. With the Buffalo Bisons this year, six-foot-three, 280-pound, first baseman Luis Jimenez, who bats left-handed, has 13 homers, while the right-handed hitting Mauro Gomez has gone deep 17 times. Both have long minor league track records, Jimenez is 31 years old, while Gomez is 28.
– Toronto native Dick Fowler remains the only Canadian to toss a no-hitter. The Philadelphia Athletics right-hander held the St. Louis Browns hitless on September 9, 1945 in his first start after returning from military duty. I recently discovered, however, that Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Cleveland (Swift Current, Sask.) just about tossed a no-hitter on September 27, 1973. Toeing the rubber for the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium that game, Cleveland permitted just a single to Cubs catcher Ken Rudolph in the top of the sixth inning. Rudolph was promptly erased on a double-play ball, hit by Cubs pitcher Burt Hooton. The Cardinals won the game 2-0 thanks to Cleveland’s dominance (that saw him face the minimum 27 batters) and a two-run homer from Hall of Famer Lou Brock.
– In my continued efforts to keep up with members of the 1994 Montreal Expos, I recently discovered Freddie Benavides, who was a utility infielder for the Expos during that storied campaign, is the Cincinnati Reds minor league infield coordinator. In the off-season, he operates the Freddie Benavides Baseball Academy in his hometown of Laredo, Texas.
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I watched Mike Kusiewicz pitch in Moncton, while scouting nationals for the jays, back in the early 90’s. They (Jays) had flown in super scout Neil Summers to work that weekend with me. Neil had been in the business for more than 30 years and was one of the high level scouting bosses to jump off the Margie Schot ship in Cincinnati. Neil started as a scouting supervisor with the Reds in 1968. There was one highly touted Canadian righty we wandered to the bullpen to watch warm-up. Neil saw 3 pitches, turned and said, “let’s go, horrible arm speed..is there a diner around here ?” LOL. Loved Neil. He wound up giving a couple Shediac fisherman his World series ring to try on at the diner. Great guy. He was a victim of the Richardi purge of all staff not willing to be yes-men. Kusiewicz looked promising, but didn’t have a good outing that night. If memory serves, he pitched for Ontario. Thanks for posting kevin.
Mike is a great guy. Met him once in Ottawa. Sounds like he is doing a great job teaching kids.
great story on Reggie. I didn’t know.
Morneau is streaky. I bet he still hits 20-25hr’s this season.
From Devon Teeple:
Its great to hear Thames is doing well in Seattle. I think he got a bum rap in Toronto and maybe, too much was expected out of him.
He just needs to play full-time and I think he’ll be fine.