July 31, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:
-Infielder/outfielder Charles Leblanc (Laval, Que.) was called up by the Miami Marlins on Friday. The versatile 26-year-old joined fellow Canuck Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) on the Marlins’ roster. On Saturday, Leblanc became the 12th player born in Canada to play in a big league game this season when he batted ninth and started at third base. He went 1-for-3 in the Marlins’ 4-0 loss to the New York Mets at Loan Depot Park in Miami. His first major league hit was a double off right-hander Carlos Carrasaco in the bottom of the eighth inning (You can watch it here). Of the 12 players born in Canada to have played in the major leagues in 2022, three were born in Quebec: Leblanc, Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal) and Seattle Mariners infielder Abraham Toro (Longueuil, Que.). Otto Lopez, who spent part of his youth in Montreal, also suited up for one game with the Blue Jays this season.
– Right-hander Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.) was recalled by the Seattle Mariners from the triple-A Tacoma Rainiers on Thursday. He had just be sent down three days earlier. After posting a 7.65 ERA in five big league starts to begin the season, Brash was demoted to triple-A on May 5 and was converted into a reliever. During his tenure in triple-A, he posted a 3.46 ERA and notched 41 strikeouts in 26 innings in 22 appearances. The 24-year-old Kingston Thunder alum was originally recalled on July 9 and allowed two runs in five relief appearances, spanning 5 1/3 innings in his first stretch as a big league reliever. On Friday, he tossed a scoreless inning and fanned two for the M’s in their 11-1 loss to the Houston Astros.
-Fresh on the heels of his induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on June 18, Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.) was inducted into the triple-A Rochester Red Wings Hall of Fame on Tuesday. You can listen to him discuss the honour by clicking on the link above or by clicking here. Prior to his outstanding big league tenure with the Minnesota Twins, Morneau honed his skills with the Red Wings in 2003 and 2004. In 143 games in parts of two seasons, he batted .288 with 38 home runs and 105 RBIs with the Red Wings and was named to the triple-A All Star team in 2004. The North Delta Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum went on to play 14 major league seasons with the Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox and was a four-time All Star. In 2006, he became the first – and still only – Canadian to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award.
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-Cleveland Guardians outfielder Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) has enjoyed one of his best months in the major leagues this July. In 19 games, the left-handed hitting slugger has batted .333 and recorded a .609 slugging percentage. He also has five home runs and 12 RBIs and has scored 10 runs. Unfortunately, he sat out the Guardians’ games on Friday and Saturday due to soreness in his right ankle. His performance in July has boosted his season totals to a .282 batting average with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs in 70 games, which has put the former Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team member’s name in early conversations for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill Award, as top Canuck player.
-Speaking of Tip O’Neill Award candidates, Blue Jays closer and 2022 American League All-Star Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) has been dominant in July. In nine appearances, he owns a 1-0 record with a 0.93 ERA and has 10 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. The Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum has also collected six saves which gives him an American League-leading 23 this season.
-It was 14 years ago today that Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Jason Bay (Trail, B.C.) was dealt to the Boston Red Sox in a three-way trade between the Red Sox, Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers landed Manny Ramirez in the transaction, while they sent Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris to the Pirates. The Red Sox also sent Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss to the Pirates. Bay had the unenviable task of replacing Ramirez in the Sox lineup and did so admirably, hitting .293 with a .370 on-base percentage (OBP) and a .527 slugging percentage with nine home runs and 37 RBIs in 43 games down the stretch. The Red Sox eventually lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series. Bay followed that up with another excellent campaign in Beantown in 2009 that saw him lead the Red Sox with 36 home runs and 119 RBIs. For his efforts, he was named to the American League All-Star team, won a Silver Slugger Award and finished seventh in the AL MVP voting.
-It was on this date 29 years ago that the Montreal Expos retired Gary Carter’s No. 8 in a pre-game ceremony at Olympic Stadium. Signed out of high school by the Expos in 1972, Carter spent 17 years with the franchise, including three seasons in the minors, 11 in the majors and three as a broadcaster. Nicknamed “Kid” for his boyish enthusiasm for the game, Carter belted 220 home runs as an Expo (third on the Expos’ all-time list) in 1,502 games with the club, and was named the team’s Player of the Year four times. In all, the popular catcher participated in 11 All-Star games, won three Gold Gloves and five Silver Slugger awards.
-It was also on this date 29 years ago that the Blue Jays acquired Rickey Henderson from the Oakland A’s in exchange for top pitching prospect Steve Karsay and a player to be named later (outfielder Jose Herrera). The then 34-year-old Henderson didn’t exactly tear it up with the Blue Jays. He batted just .215 in 44 regular season games, but his OBP was a healthy .356 and he swiped 22 stolen bases. He also posted a .393 OBP and had five walks in the six-game Fall Classic against the Philadelphia Phillies and was on base when Joe Carter belted his walk-off World Series-winning home run.
-Happy 66th Birthday to former Houston Astros right-hander Gordie Pladson! The New Westminster, B.C., native made 20 appearances for the Astros between 1979 and 1982. In 1980, he registered a 4.35 ERA in 12 appearances, including six starts, for an Astros team that eventually won the National League West title. Following his major league career, he returned to his home province to become a property agent/consultant in Surrey, B.C. His grandson, Kai Sheck, currently plays for the Whalley Chiefs of the British Columbia Premier Baseball League and is eligible for the MLB draft in 2023.
-As noted earlier, Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) has 23 saves this season. Who holds the Canadian record for most saves in an American League season? Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
–There was no trivia question last week.