By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
-As Scott Crawford, of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, noted, Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) recorded his 500th major league strikeout on Wednesday. With that, the hard-throwing hurler became the 15th Canadian to reach that milestone (A complete list can be found in the tweet below). Unfortunately, despite fanning nine batters and allowing just two runs on three hits to the Houston Astros in that start, Pivetta was saddled with his first loss of the season. The 28-year-old righty is now 6-1 with a 3.77 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings in 11 starts for the Red Sox in 2021.
-Major League Baseball unveiled its 2021 All-Star Game ballot on Thursday and there are four Canadians on it. Cleveland slugger Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) and Blue Jays star Vladimir Guererro Jr. (Montreal, Que.) will battle for votes at the first base position in the American League, while you can support Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) at the same position in the National League. You can also vote for Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.), who’s listed among National League outfielders. Vote here.
-Speaking of Votto, he’s close to returning from the broken thumb that has sidelined him since May 7. He started a rehab assignment with the Cincinnati Reds’ triple-A Louisville Bats on Wednesday and has been hitting leadoff for the club. Five days after belting his 300th major league home run, the 37-year-old Canuck suffered the broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch by Chicago White Sox left-hander Dallas Keuchel in a Reds’ 1-0 win on May 5. Now in his 15th major league season, Votto was batting .226 with five home runs in 29 games this season prior to the injury. He is approaching two more career milestones. He is 68 hits shy of 2,000 for his major league career and he needs 17 RBIs to reach 1,000.
-The Detroit Tigers have struggled offensively this season. Their slash line as a team is .227/.297/.369. That makes for a dismal .666 OPS. So after watching Canada compete in the Americas Olympic qualifier tournament over the past week, if the Tigers are looking to jumpstart their offence, I suggest they call up outfield prospect Jacob Robson (Windsor, Ont.). The 26-year-old was excellent both offensively and defensively for Canada in the tourney. At the plate, he went 8-for-19 (.421 batting average) and he made several standout plays in left field. Selected in the eighth round of the 2016 MLB draft by the Tigers, the Windsor Selects and Ontario Blue Jays alum is now in his fifth professional season. In 18 games with double-A Erie in 2021 prior to suiting up for Canada, he was hitting .424 with 28 hits and a .531 on-base percentage.
-After beginning the season with 17 relief appearances, Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) made his first start of the season for Cleveland on Monday, allowing one run, while striking out five, in 3 2/3 innings in the Indians’ 3-1 win over the White Sox. The 26-year-old Canuck will start again for Cleveland today when they take on the Baltimore Orioles. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 2.08 ERA in 18 total appearances, spanning 30 1/3 innings, this season. The Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team grad started last season with the San Diego Padres before he was traded to Cleveland on August 31. He’s now in his third major league campaign.
-Happy 62nd Birthday to former big league outfielder and Ottawa, Ont., native Doug Frobel! Once considered the heir apparent to Dave Parker in right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the left-handed hitting Canadian batted .201 with 109 hits, including 21 doubles and 20 home runs, in 268 games over parts of five major league seasons with the Pirates and Montreal Expos. For his 2020 Expos book, Always Remembered, Danny Gallagher discovered that Frobel retired to a family business in Ottawa. Gallagher tracked Frobel down sitting in a small booth in one of the parking lots his family owns in the nation’s capital.
-Happy 36th Birthday to former Oakland A’s right-hander Trystan Magnuson! After being selected 56th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2007 MLB draft, the Vancouver native spent parts of three seasons in their minors before being traded to the A’s with reliever Danny Farquhar for outfielder Rajai Davis in November 2010. Magnuson would make his big league debut with the A’s in 2011, posting a 6.14 ERA in nine relief appearances, before he was sold back to the Blue Jays that November. He pitched parts of two more seasons in the Blue Jays’ system before retiring in 2013. He also toed the rubber for the bronze medal-winning Canadian national team at the 2009 World Cup.
-Montreal Expos legend, Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Andre Dawson threw out one of the first pitches prior to Canada’s Super Round game against the U.S. at the Americas Olympic qualifier at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Friday. Former Expos outfielder Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.), who will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame next month, was also at the game cheering on Canada. Thank you to Baseball Canada’s Adam Morissette for sharing this photo (below) that he snapped of the two Hall of Famers together on Friday.
– My trivia question for this week: Andre Dawson’s No. 10 was retired by the Expos in 1997. Three other players have had their number retired by the Expos. Name two of them. Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.
–The answer to last week’s trivia question (Three different Canadian pitchers won 15 games in a season for the Philadelphia A’s between 1940 and 1950. Dick Fowler (Toronto, Ont.) and Bob Hooper (Leamington, Ont.) are two of them. Who is the third? ) was Phil Marchildon (Penetanguishene, Ont.).