My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
• With southpaw reliever Brett Cecil out for the playoffs with a torn left-calf muscle, if I’m Blue Jays manager John Gibbons and I need to get a left-handed batter out late in the game tonight, I’m bringing in David Price to face him. With the season on the line, surely Price could throw 10 to 15 pitches and still make a start on Wednesday.
• The play in the 14th inning of the Blue Jays’ 6-4 loss to the Texas Rangers on Friday that saw shortstop Troy Tulowitzki corral a throw from Jose Bautista and seemingly tag Rougned Odor before he got his foot back on second base is proof that we sometimes only see what we want to see. Hardcore Blue Jays fans were convinced that Odor’s foot was off the bag and that he should’ve been called out. While non-Blue Jays fans argued equally vehemently that the replays were inconclusive. I thought he was out, but after re-watching the replays several times, I’m not so sure.
• Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer and Toronto Blue Jays legend Tony Fernandez is free to cheer for the Blue Jays in the American League Division Series. From 2012 to 2014, Fernandez served as an assistant to Rangers president and general manager Jon Daniels. It’s a safe bet, however, that before he departed, Fernandez, a four-time Gold Glove-winning infielder, shared his fielding wisdom with Odor and shortstop Elvis Andrus.
• There are two former Calgary Cannons on the Rangers’ coaching staff. Third base coach Tony Beasley hit .273 in 75 games as a utility player with the Cannons in 1997, while bullpen coach Andy Hawkins won 10 games and posted a 4.87 ERA in his final professional season with the Cannons in 1992.
• In case you missed it, the Philadelphia Phillies outrighted Canadian left-hander Adam Loewen (Surrey, B.C.) off their 40-man roster on Wednesday. The 6-foot-6 southpaw registered a 6.98 ERA in 20 appearances with the Phillies this season. When he took the mound for the Phils on August 10, he became the first big leaguer to debut as a pitcher, then become a full-time positional player and then return as a pitcher since Johnny Lindell completed this feat in 1953. Selected fourth overall in the 2002 MLB amateur draft, Loewen pitched parts of three seasons with the Baltimore Orioles from 2006 to 2008 before an elbow injury seemingly ended his career on the mound. The Canuck left-hander decided to make a comeback as a positional player and he signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays and eventually played 14 games as an outfielder with the big league club in 2011. After two minor league seasons in the Mets and Jays organizations as an outfielder, he signed with the Phillies in 2014 and began to pitch again.
• A special thank you to crackerjack baseball historian and researcher Clay Marston who shared with me that Roberto Clemente wore No. 5 with the Montreal Royals in 1954. I had been searching for this information for several years. Very few photos exist of Clemente from that season and those that I had seen pictured the Hall of Fame outfielder from the front. To read more about Clemente’s season in Montreal, you can follow this link.
• Buried in the news that the Washington Nationals had fired Matt Williams was the fact that Randy Knorr was also dismissed. The former Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Expos catcher, who had been a bench coach for the Nats since 2012, had persevered through personal tragedy this season when his wife, Kimberly, passed away suddenly on June 23 at the age of 45. Knorr has said he would welcome an interview for the Nats’ managerial opening and reports indicate that general manager Mike Rizzo hasn’t ruled him out as a candidate.
• This week’s trivia question: In 2007, Jeff Francis (North Delta, B.C.) started Game 1 of the World Series for the Colorado Rockies to become the second Canadian pitcher to start a World Series game. Can you name the first Canadian pitcher to start a World Series game? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a Roberto Osuna rookie card.