My weekly observations about stories around the baseball world from a Canadian perspective (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):
– Two ex-big leaguers from Cambridge, Ont., have landed prominent coaching jobs this off-season. Rob Ducey, who was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in June, will serve as a hitting instructor with the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rookie-class squad until he transitions to their Class-A team in Missoula. Meanwhile, former Atlanta Brave, Scott Thorman, who has suited up for the Intercounty League’s Brantford Red Sox the past two seasons, will be the bench coach for the Kansas City Royals’ rookie-level, Appalachian League club in Burlington.
– In the Canadian baseball community, the end of the year just isn’t official until Bob Elliott releases his annual “100 Most Influential Canadians in Baseball” list. A special congratulations goes out to pals Scott Crawford (Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame) and Tom Valcke (iCASE Baseball) who are ranked 91st and 94th respectively.
– I was saddened to learn that former Montreal Expos catcher Ed Herrman passed away on December 22 from prostate cancer at the age of 67. The San Diego native played in 11 big league seasons, experiencing his greatest success with the Chicago White Sox from 1969 to 1974. He also enjoyed stints with the Yankees, Angels and Astros and finished his career with 80 homers in 922 games.
– The number of former Montreal Expos that are still active is dwindling. By my count, 10 ex-Expos played in the big leagues last season and just three of those players – Bartolo Colon (New York Mets), Scott Downs (Chicago White Sox) and Maicer Izturis (Toronto Blue Jays) – have signed big league contracts for 2014. Ted Lilly retired earlier this off-season and Luis Ayala, Jamey Carroll, Endy Chavez, Bruce Chen and Jon Rauch all remain unsigned. Former Expo Brendan Harris, who saw action with the Angels last year, has inked a minor league deal with the Dodgers.
– Happy Birthday to Devon White who turns 51 today. I was thinking of White earlier this week after the sudden passing of former Orioles star Paul Blair at the age of 69. Blair, who had previous heart issues, reportedly collapsed at a charity bowling event in Pikesvillle, Md., and could not be revived. White, who won two World Series with the Blue Jays, is the best defensive centre fielder I’ve ever watched play, but when I get into conversations with baseball fans who are 10-to-15 years older than me, they always say Blair was better.
– If a big league team is looking to fill out their pitching staff this off-season, at least three Canadian hurlers are still available. Veteran southpaws Erik Bedard (Navan, Ont.) and Jeff Francis (Vancouver, B.C.) might enhance the back-end of a rotation, while Jesse Crain (Toronto, Ont.), who’s said to have healed from a shoulder injury that kept him out the last three months of the 2013 season, would be an excellent addition to a bullpen. There’s no word on whether Victoria, B.C., native, Rich Harden, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2011, will attempt to pitch again in 2014.
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