My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
– According to Fox Sports senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal, the Toronto Blue Jays have “checked on” free agent Alfonso Soriano. The right-handed hitting slugger, who has belted 412 career homers, was released by the New York Yankees last Monday. The Blue Jays are desperate for more offence against left-handed pitching, but would adding Soriano, another all-or-nothing hitter, to a lineup that already has plenty of all-or-nothing hitters help? Soriano is also a defensive liability, so he’d likely have to DH, which with Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion both on the disabled list right now, might work in the short-term. The Yankees are on the hook for the remaining $8 million of Soriano’s 2014 salary, so he’s likely available for the pro-rated major league minimum. Reports indicate that Soriano is contemplating retirement, but he might be worth taking a short-term flyer on.
– Released by the Minnesota Twins on July 12, Guelph, Ont., native Scott Diamond signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Monday and was assigned to the Triple-A Louisville Bats. Diamond had posted a 6.53 ERA in 17 games for the Twins’ Triple-A Rochester Red Wings this season. He limited the Toledo Mud Hens to two runs on four hits in six innings in his first start with Louisville on Sunday.
– In case you missed it, the Kansas City Royals acquired former Toronto Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor on Wednesday. He’ll be added to a bullpen that already includes ex-Jay Scott Downs, whom the Royals picked up on July 6. The Royals’ pen now boasts the two relievers who earned the most saves for the Jays in 2009. No word on whether the Royals are also attempting to convince Jesse Carlson to come out of retirement.
– According to Bob Dutton of The News Tribune, Richmond, B.C., native James Paxton will return to the Seattle Mariners rotation within two weeks. The Canadian southpaw, who has also been mentioned in David Price trade rumors, has been on the disabled list since April 8 with a strained back muscle. He was initially set to return in late-May, but he was shut down after experiencing soreness in his throwing shoulder. Paxton, who is 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA in six big league starts, says he’s now pain-free and is set to throw 60 pitches in a rehab start with the Mariners’ Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers on Tuesday.
– Thirty-five years ago yesterday, the Montreal Expos traded a player to be named later (Randall Schafer) to the Detroit Tigers for Rusty Staub. “Le Grande Orange,” a fan favourite and an all-star with the Expos from 1969 to 1971, was 35 years old and best suited to DH in the American League at the time of the deal, but the Expos needed some left-handed pop in their lineup. Staub was to see action at first base, in the outfield and as a pinch-hitter. Unfortunately, the day after the trade, in his first game in his Expos return, he strained his groin muscle chasing a foul ball hit by Steve Garvey at Dodger Stadium. The injury sidelined him for six days. When Staub came back from the injury on July 27 and pinch hit in his first home game since his return, 59,260 Expos fans gave him one of the longest ovations in franchise history. In all, Staub played in 38 games with the Expos that season and hit .267. It wasn’t enough to lead the club to a division title. The Pittsburgh Pirates ultimately won the division and the World Series.
– Thanks to @BaseballRetirements on Twitter for sharing that former Montreal Expos minor leaguer Jerome Coleman passed away in La Grange, Ga., on March 31 at the age of 55. A 26th round pick of the Expos in 1981, Coleman, a speedy, left-handed hitting outfielder and first baseman, began his minor league career in Rookie Ball with the Calgary Expos. He played three more seasons in the Expos system, rising as high as Class-A before hanging up his spikes. After retiring from professional baseball, he returned to Georgia and coached athletes for the Coweta County Recreation Department. He’s survived by his wife and two sons.