My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
• Mississauga, Ont., native Josh Naylor has belted two home runs so far in his major league career and his enthusiastic celebrations in the San Diego Padres dugout after his homers have quickly made him a fan favourite in Southern California. The tweet below can attest to that. This family (click on the tweet) brought a large sign with Naylor’s name on it to a game at Petco Park and the Canadian slugger signed it for them. In his first 14 big league games, Naylor has 11 hits and is batting .244.
— Bob Scanlan (@heyscan) June 5, 2019
• Victoria, B.C., native Nick Pivetta tossed his first major league complete game on Saturday, limiting the Cincinnati Reds to one run on six hits in a 4-1 Philadelphia Phillies’ win. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has permitted just four runs in 20 innings in three starts since returning from his demotion to triple-A. Pivetta had been sent down after he posted an 8.35 ERA in four starts to begin the season. Fortunately the Canadian righty 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 Phillies have high hopes for the hard-throwing 26-year-old who has showed flashes of brilliance in his first three 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.
• Calgary native Mike Soroka allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings in his start for the Atlanta Braves against the Detroit Tigers last Saturday. It was a quality start that earned him a win, but it was also the first time this season that he has surrendered more than one earned run in a start. He followed that up with the longest outing of his career on Friday, allowing just three hits and one run in eight innings against the Miami Marlins to pick up another win. He is now 7-1 with a 1.38 ERA in 65 1/3 innings in 10 starts this season. Soroka made his big league debut with the Braves in 2018 and went 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA in five starts before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. A graduate of the Canadian Junior National Team, the 6-foot-5 righty was a first-round pick (28th overall) of the Braves in the 2015 MLB draft.
• It was 70 years ago today that Toronto native and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Dick Fowler hurled a 12-inning shutout for the Philadelphia A’s to lead them to a 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. In that game, Fowler recorded nine putouts. The major league record for most putouts by a pitcher in a game is 11. This was the second longest outing of Fowler’s career. Believe it or not, Fowler pitched 16 innings for the A’s against the St. Louis Browns in a start on June 5, 1942 and ended up taking a loss in a 1-0 defeat.
• The day after I wrote about Burnaby, B.C., native Jim Adduci being called up by the Chicago Cubs to become the 11th Canadian to play in the majors this season, the left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder was designated for assignment by the club. He cleared waivers and was assigned to the triple-A Iowa Cubs on Friday. Adduci, who went 0-for-5 in his brief stint with the Cubs, was the second Canadian to suit up for the Cubs this season. 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. The 34-year-old Adduci enjoyed his longest tenure in the big leagues last season, batting .267 in 59 games for the Detroit Tigers.
• If I lived closer, the independent Can-Am League’s Quebec City Capitales would be a team I’d gladly pay to watch this season. Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Scott Richmond (Vancouver, B.C.), ex-Detroit Tigers hurler Dustin Molleken (Regina, Sask.) and former Seattle Mariners draft pick and speedy outfielder Tyson Gillies are all on the team’s roster.
• To illustrate how insignificant the position assigned to a player is on draft day in the long term: New Westminster, B.C., native Justin Morneau, taken in the third round, 89th overall by the Minnesota Twins in 1999, Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto, chosen in the second round, 44th overall by the Cincinnati Reds in 2002, and Langley, B.C., native Brett Lawrie, selected in the first round, 16th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008, were all drafted as catchers and none of them have ever played a game behind the dish in the majors.
• In honour of former Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Don Money’s 72nd birthday on Friday, I put together (with some input from my Twitter followers), my all MLB money major league team: C John Buck, 1B Norm Cash, 2B Dave Cash, SS Ernie Banks, 3B Don Money, SP David Price, RP Rich Yett, RF Hunter Pence, CF Bobby Bonds, LF Barry Bonds, manager Buck O’Neill, bench coach Kevin Cash, pitching coach Wes Stock and general manager Brian Cashman. The play-by-play would be done by Joe Buck with Buck Martinez serving as an analyst.
• This week’s trivia question: What Canadian catcher has played the most games (among Canadian catchers) in the majors? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1977 Topps Record Breaker George Brett card, a 1981 Fleer MVP Mike Schmidt card, a 1989 Topps John Smoltz rookie and a 1992 Bowman Wade Boggs card.
• The answer to last 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.) was any three of Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) , Rich Harden (Victoria, B.C.), Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.), Ken Crosby (New Denver, B.C.), Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.), John Upham (Windsor, Ont.), Doc Miller (Chatham, Ont.), Vince Barton (Edmonton, Alta.), Mel Kerr (Souris, Man.), Newton Randall (New Lowell, Ont.) or Steve Wilson (Victoria, B.C.).