My weekly look at some Canadian baseball stories:
– There’s no doubt that the Toronto Blue Jays miss closer Casey Janssen, who’s set to begin a rehab stint in Double-A New Hampshire and will reportedly return within two weeks. But during the club’s recent bullpen woes, it would also be safe to say that Blue Jays relievers miss Pat Hentgen. Hentgen was the Jays’ bullpen coach last season, when most of the same relievers excelled. Hengten has taken this season off to help care for his ailing father.
– In case you missed it, there was some exciting news from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., last week. For the first time in the Hall’s 16-year existence in the quaint Southwestern Ontario town, there will be a baseball street party on induction day that will include activities for the kids and Blue Jays alumni signing autographs. For more details, stay tuned to the hall’s website at baseballhalloffame.ca.
– Speaking of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Allan Roth, one of its inductees, is the subject of the cover story in SABR’s spring 2014 edition of The Baseball Research Journal. Honoured by the Canadian ball shrine in 2010, Roth, who was born in Montreal, became the first statistician to be employed by a big league club when Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey hired him in 1947. A good case can be made that Roth is the true father of “Moneyball.” You can read more about Roth here.
– Twenty-five years ago yesterday, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Junior Felix belted a solo homer off of Angels starter Kirk McCaskill (Kapuskasing, Ont.) in the third inning of a game at Exhibition Stadium to become the 53rd player to homer in their first big league at bat. Felix batted ninth in the Blue Jays’ lineup that day behind four future Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers – Tony Fernandez, George Bell, Ernie Whitt and Rob Ducey. McCaskill who served up the long ball has also been inducted into the Canuck ball shrine. The Jays lost the game 3-2 in 10 innings.
– A fascinating new Twitter account (@Royals_46season) recounts the Montreal Royals’ historic 1946 season. That was the year that Jackie Robinson played in Montreal before breaking Major League Baseball’s colour barrier in 1947.
– There was good and bad news for Canadian big leaguers on Saturday. The good news is that Scarborough, Ont., native George Kottaras was called up by the Cleveland Indians to replace catcher Yan Gomes, who’s on paternity leave. Kottaras responded by belted two home runs for the Tribe on Sunday. The bad news is that the New York Yankees designated Montreal native Chris Leroux for assignment. The Canadian right-hander was roughed up for five runs in the 14th inning of the Bombers’ 10-5 loss to the Rays on Friday.
– An article by Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith that was published on Friday indicates that Canadian Pete Orr, a versatile infielder from Newmarket, Ont., wanted to sign with the Blue Jays in the off-season. “Pete made it clear to them [the Blue Jays] they were his first choice and starting in [triple-A] Buffalo was fine,” agent Blake Corosky of True Gravity Baseball told Sportsnet. “But they were equally clear there were better options and that they liked him but not enough.” Orr ultimately signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers and is hitting .310 in 21 games for their triple-A affiliate in Nashville.