By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
-The Atlanta Braves shared in a medical update on Twitter on Saturday that Canadian right-hander Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) has re-torn his right Achilles tendon. The 23-year-old Canuck felt a pop in his Achilles while walking to the clubhouse at Truist Park on Thursday. “An MRI was performed, which revealed a complete re-tear of the tendon,” part of the update reads. “Soroka will require season-ending surgery, which will be scheduled within the week.” Last month, David O’Brien, of The Athletic, shared that Soroka had undergone an “exploratory/clean-up” surgery on his Achilles on May 17. This re-tear is a devastating turn of events for the Junior National Team alum. Soroka made just three starts in 2020 prior to his initial injury, but in his rookie campaign in 2019, he went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts and finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.
– When Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. belted his 25th home run of the season on Friday, he broke Victoria, B.C., native Michael Saunders’ franchise record for most home runs in a season by a player born in Canada. Guerrero Jr. was born in Montreal. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame sent out the following congratulatory statement to Guerrero after the homer:
-Right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) had the most dominant start of his career on Thursday when he did not allow a hit and struck out eight in 6 2/3 scoreless innings before he was removed by Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora after 100 pitches. “I did not want to come out but it’s not about me,” Pivetta told reporters after the game. “It’s about the game. It’s about winning baseball games and that’s what’s most important. The matchups worked out really well with JT [left-handed reliever Josh Taylor]. He’s been doing a great job all series with those lefties. And that’s really important. So it was a tie ballgame at the time. I was at 100 pitches. So right now it’s just about winning baseball games. That’s what’s most important.” For the record, Taylor successfully recorded the final out of the inning, but the Red Sox ended up losing 1-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays, who would register two hits off Sox relievers. Pivetta is enjoying a breakout campaign for the Sox. The 28-year-old Canadian is 6-3 with a 4.00 ERA in 15 starts and has 94 strikeouts in 81 innings. The Victoria Eagles and Junior National Team alum came to the Red Sox in a trade last August after spending parts of four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.
-June has been a roller-coaster month for Cleveland right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.). After allowing five runs in 1 1/3 innings in a start against the Baltimore Orioles on June 6, the Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team grad proceeded to toss 11 scoreless innings in two starts and a relief appearance between June 9 and 19. Unfortunately, he was roughed up in his start on Friday, permitting six runs in 4 1/3 innings to the Minnesota Twins. Overall, however, the 26-year-old owns a respectable 3.64 ERA in 23 appearances (five starts), spanning 47 innings, this season.
-Happy 90th Birthday to Montreal Expos original owner Charles Bronfman! Without his dedication and commitment, it’s unlikely that Major League Baseball would be played in Canada today. The Montreal native was chairman of the board and principal owner of the Expos from the club’s inception until it was sold to a consortium in 1991. During his ownership tenure, Bronfman evolved into an influential baseball man, serving on numerous decision-making committees. In 1982, he served as an advisor to commissioner Bowie Kuhn and was instrumental in bringing that season’s All-Star game to Olympic Stadium – the first time the midsummer classic was contested outside of the United States. A highly respected businessman around the world, Bronfman is also a well-known philanthropist. He was named a companion of the Order of Canada in 1992 and has been awarded several honorary university doctorates. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.
-On this date 19 years ago, the Expos, with a 41-36 record and in the thick of the National League wild-card race, acquired ace right-hander Bartolo Colon and reliever Tim Drew from Cleveland in exchange for first baseman Lee Stevens and prospects Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore. Today it’s considered one of the most lopsided deals in Expos’ history, but back then, it was a bold and brave move for a cash-strapped club rumoured to be leaving the city. As we know, Lee, Phillips and Sizemore each developed into all-star players, but Colon was excellent in his short tenure with the Expos, posting a 10-4 record and a 3.31 ERA in 17 starts. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to propel the Expos into the postseason. They finished with a 83-79 record, 12 games back of the San Francisco Giants who claimed the NL wild-card spot.
-Speaking of blockbuster trades, it was 30 years ago today that the Blue Jays landed Tom Candiotti and outfielder Turner Ward from Cleveland in exchange for outfielders Glenallen Hill and Mark Whiten, as well as Canadian lefty Denis Boucher (Lachine, Que.). A knuckleballer, Candiotti pitched well down the stretch for the Blue Jays, posting a 2.98 ERA in 19 starts, but he was roughed up for nine runs on 17 hits in 7 2/3 innings in two American League Championship Series starts against the Twins. He would sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent following the season. Ward would serve as a back-up outfielder on the Blue Jays’ 1992 and 1993 World Series-winning teams.
-Twenty-one years ago today, the Montreal Expos registered their 1,000th win at Olympic Stadium when they beat Tom Glavine and the Atlanta Braves 6-4. First baseman Lee Stevens went 4-for-4 and had a home run, while Jose Vidro added a two-run round-tripper. Tony Armas Jr. started and got the win for the Expos. He allowed just one run on two hits in 5 1/3 innings.
-This isn’t this week’s trivia question, but who hit the first grand slam in Blue Jays’ history? The answer is shortstop Hector Torres 44 years ago today. He clubbed the historic homer with two outs in the fifth inning off New York Yankees ace Ron Guidry in the Blue Jays’ 7-6 win at Exhibition Stadium.
– My trivia question for this week: What player has hit the most career grand slams with the Blue Jays? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.
–The answer to last week’s trivia question (There have been two Canadian father/son tandems that have played in the big leagues. Can you name them? ) was Dave and Cody McKay (Vancouver, B.C.) and Paul and Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.)