My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· In case you missed it, Burnaby, B.C., native Jim Adduci was called up by the Chicago Cubs on Monday. With the promotion, he became the 11th Canadian to play in the major leagues this season and the second to suit up for the Cubs. North Vancouver, B.C., native Rowan Wick hurled an inning in relief for the Cubs on May 23 before he was sent back down to triple-A. Adduci had gone 7-for-16 (.438 batting average) with three home runs and 10 RBIs in the six games before his promotion, a performance that earned him Canadian Baseball Network minor league player of the week honours. The 34-year-old outfielder/first baseman, who is 0-for-4 in his only action with the Cubs, enjoyed his longest tenure in the big leagues last season, batting .267 in 59 games for the Detroit Tigers. In the previous campaign, Adduci hit .241 in 29 contests for the Tigers. The 6-foot-2 veteran previously played parts of two seasons with the Texas Rangers in 2013 and 2014, batting a combined .189 in 61 games. Selected by the Florida Marlins in the 42nd round of the 2003 MLB draft, Adduci is now in his 16th professional season. He enjoyed his greatest success with the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization in 2015 when he hit .314 with 28 home runs and 106 RBI in 132 games.
· Left-hander James Paxton’s return to the New York Yankees’ rotation couldn’t have gone much better. After being sidelined for 26 days with a knee injury, the Ladner, B.C., native struck out seven batters in four no-hit innings for the Bombers on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. He was limited to 66 pitches. Paxton now owns a 3-2 record and a 2.81 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings in eight starts with the Yankees after spending his first four seasons with the Seattle Mariners. And for those who wondered how Paxton would fare under the bright lights in The Big Apple, the answer could be found in Talkin’ Yanks reporter Katie Sharp’s tweet (below) on Wednesday. In five starts at Yankees Stadium this season, Paxton possesses a 0.34 ERA.
· Victoria, B.C., native Nick Pivetta also impressed in his return to the Philadelphia Phillies rotation on Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals. After allowing two home runs in the first inning, he settled down to limit the Cards to just one more run through five innings to pick up his third win of the year. Pivetta will start against the Los Angeles Dodgers today. The 6-foot-5 Canadian right-hander had been sent down to the triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs after he posted an 8.35 ERA in four starts to begin the season. Pivetta found his form in the minors and went 4-1 with a 3.41 ERA and fanned 50 batters in 37 innings in six starts before he was recalled. The Phils still have high hopes for the hard-throwing 26-year-old who showed flashes of brilliance in his first two big league seasons. After going 8-10 with 140 strikeouts in 133 innings in 26 starts in 2017, he followed that up by fanning 188 batters in 164 innings and lowering his earned run average to 4.77 in 32 starts last season.
· The Major League Draft begins tomorrow and I’d invite you to follow the Canadian Baseball Network’s extensive coverage here. I’ve been fortunate over the years to interview both the Montreal Expos’ first-ever selection in the MLB Draft, left-handed pitcher Balor Moore and the Toronto Blue Jays’ first-ever selection,shortstop Tom Goffena. Click on their names for the links to my articles about them.
· I didn’t hear that Albert Pujols has a press conference planned, but I can’t help but wonder what future Baseball Hall of Famer might retire today. According to Baseball Reference, Babe Ruth (1935), Rod Carew (1986) and Ken Griffey Jr. (2010) all announced their retirement on June 2. Sadly, Lou Gehrig also died 78 years ago today.
· Please take a moment to remember former Toronto Blue Jays executive and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Peter Widdrington who would’ve turned 89 today. One of the most respected executives in Blue Jays history, Widdrington graduated from Pickering College and Queen’s University, prior to obtaining his MBA from Harvard. Starting as a salesman with Labatt’s in 1955, the Toronto native rose through the ranks to serve the company in several executive posts, before being elevated to president from 1973 to 1989. An avid sportsman, Widdrington joined the Blue Jays’ board of directors in 1976, eventually becoming the board chair in 1991, a post he would hold through the Blue Jays’ two World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. At various points in the ’90s, he chaired Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Licensing & Marketing Committee and MLB’s Trust Advisory Committee. He also acted as MLB’s interim CAO and as an advisor to the commissioner. Widdrington also played a key role in establishing TSN, Canada’s first all-sports TV station, in 1984, resulting in an increased TV profile for the Blue Jays. He passed away in 2005. He was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously in 2008.
· Canadian baseball legend Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) shared a touching tribute to his friend and former teammate Bill Buckner on Twitter on Monday (Click on link below). Buckner, who played with Jenkins on the 1982 and 1983 Chicago Cubs teams and had supported Jenkins’ charitable foundation in more recent years, passed away on May 27 at age 69 from Lewy Body Dementia.
· This week’s trivia question: Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, B.C.) and Jim Adduci (Burnaby, B.C.) have played for the Chicago Cubs in recent weeks. Name three other Canadians that have played for the Chicago Cubs over the years. Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1987 Fleer Rickey Henderson card, a 1987 Topps Bo Jackson rookie card, a 1989 Fleer Randy Johnson rookie card and a 1991 Topps Chipper Jones rookie card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (Cal Quantrill, Josh Naylor and Rowan Wick started their big league careers with the San Diego Padres. Can you name two other Canadians who have played for the Padres over the years?) was any one of Chris Robinson (Dorchester, Ont.). Paul Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.), Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.), Shawn Hill (Georgetown, Ont.), Kevin Nicholson (Vancouver, B.C.), Eric Cyr (Montreal, Que.), Mike Kilkenny (Bradford, Ont.), Ron Taylor (Toronto, Ont.), Jason Bay (Trail, B.C.) and Pete LaForest (Hull, Que.).