But What Do I Know? . . . Nick Pivetta, Cal Quantrill, Matt Stairs, Tim Raines

May 29, 2022

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:

-On Wednesday, Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) won his third straight start, allowing three runs on five hits in six innings in the Sox 16-3 win over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. The 29-year-old Victoria Eagles and Junior National Team alum is now 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in his last three starts. In those appearances, he has struck out 17 batters in 22 innings.

-Words were exchanged between two Canadian big leaguers on Wednesday in the Cincinnati Reds’ 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs. In the bottom of the eighth inning with the Reds leading 4-2, Cubs reliever Rowan Wick (Vancouver, B.C.) threw an inside pitch to Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.). Votto didn’t express any anger and returned to the batter’s box, but after Votto walked on four pitches, Wick yelled something at Votto while he proceeded down the line. Votto yelled back and continued to yell while he was on first base. You can watch the exchange in this link or in the video below. “All I said was ‘nice bat flip,'” Wick told reporters after the game. “I understand he’s been in the league a long time. He can do whatever he wants when he walks. On my side, I was not happy at all with the pitches that I threw, so I let the emotions get the best of me.” Votto downplayed the incident calling it “part of the game.” You can listen to his post-game comments here.

-Speaking of Votto, he didn’t get the standing ovation I hoped he’d receive in what was potentially his final game at Rogers Centre last Sunday, but he did belt what turned out to be the game-winning home run in the top of the eighth inning of a Reds’ 3-2 win over the Blue Jays. If that’s Votto’s last major league game in his home city, that was the perfect way to say goodbye.

-Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) has been the most consistent Canadian big league starter this season. On Wednesday, he allowed just two runs on six hits in six innings in his start for the Cleveland Guardians against the Houston Astros and he now owns a 3.42 ERA in eight starts. He has worked at least six innings in his last six starts and pitched less than five innings only once this season. The Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team grad has picked up where he left off in 2021 when he finished with a 2.89 ERA in 40 appearances (22 starts) spanning 149 2/3 innings.

–Left-hander James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) recently told Rob Bradford, of WEEI Boston, that he has started throwing from 60 feet on flat ground again. Paxton, who has been sidelined since early May after suffering elbow soreness in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery, hopes to progress to throwing from 120 feet shortly and then to pitching off a mound. Earlier this year, Paxton had said he hoped to be pitching for the Red Sox before the All-Star break, but barring a miraculous recovery, that’s unlikely. Signed by the Red Sox in December, Paxton threw just 24 pitches in one start for the Seattle Mariners last season before undergoing Tommy John surgery. It was the second Tommy John procedure of his career. A North Delta Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum, the 33-year-old southpaw has pitched in parts of nine major league campaigns and owns a 57-33 record and a 3.59 ERA in 137 starts.

-It was 30 years ago today that Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.) made his major league debut with the Montreal Expos. The Canuck slugger pinch-hit for Expos pitcher Jeff Fassero in the eighth inning and struck out against Reds fireballer Ron Dibble in a 3-2 Expos’ loss at Olympic Stadium. Unfortunately, Stairs didn’t get many more opportunities with the Expos, playing in just 19 games with them over two seasons before they sold him to the Chunichi Dragons of the Japan Central League. He returned to the major leagues in 1995 with the Boston Red Sox, but it wasn’t until he joined the Oakland A’s in 1996 that he enjoyed his breakout season. In all, Stairs’ career spanned 19 big league campaigns and he hit 265 homers – including a major league record 23 pinch-hit round-trippers.

Abraham Toro is on the 10-day injured list. Photo: Seattle Mariners

-Seattle Mariners infielder Abraham Toro (Longueuil, Que.) is on the 10-day injured list with a left shoulder sprain. He suffered the injury after colliding with M’s right fielder Adam Frazier in the third inning in his club’s 6-5 loss to the Red Sox on May 21. The 25-year-old ABC Academy alum is in his second season with the Mariners. In 38 games this year, he is batting .179 with six home runs and 13 RBIs.

-It was 30 years ago today that Tim Raines stole his 700th major league base. Fittingly, he did it on Canadian soil, at SkyDome, while with the Chicago White Sox, against the Blue Jays. Raines stole second base for the the milestone swipe, which came in the first inning with Juan Guzman on the mound and Pat Borders behind the plate. Of course, Raines had recorded 634 of those stolen bases with the Montreal Expos in 12 seasons between 1979 and 1990.

-I was heartbroken when I heard that Ray Liotta had passed away in his sleep on Thursday at the age of 67 while filming a movie in the Dominican Republic. Many have lauded his performance as a mobster in Goodfellas, but I’ll always remember him as Shoeless Joe in Field of Dreams, a movie inspired by the book written by Canadian W.P. Kinsella. Rest in peace, Ray.

Ray Liotta, as Shoeless Joe in Field of Dreams.

-One of the best things about my Cooperstowners in Canada Facebook page is that so many former Blue Jays players and prospects have found it. It was 25 years ago Thursday that ex-Blue Jay Mike Sharperson died when he was just 34. He had been playing for the San Diego Padres’ triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas when he received word that he had been called up and was to join the big league club in Montreal. Sadly, he was killed in a car accident on the way to the airport. Many of his former teammates paid tribute to him on my Cooperstowners in Canada Facebook page. Here are some of the tributes:

-This week’s trivia question: After playing 32 games for the Blue Jays in 1987, Mike Sharperson was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. What is the name of the pitcher the Blue Jays got in return for Sharperson? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.

-The answer to last week’s trivia question (On top of Dick Fowler, the Philadelphia A’s had two other pitchers that were born in Ontario, Canada that had 15-win seasons for them between the 1945 and 1950 seasons.  Name one of them.) was either Phil Marchildon (1947) or Bob Hooper (1950).

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