August 28, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:
-The Boston Red Sox announced on Thursday that left-hander James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) has been shut down for the season with a grade 2 lat tear. The Canuck southpaw, who had been working his way back from Tommy John surgery in the Red Sox organization, was removed from his rehab start in the rookie-level Florida Complex League in the first inning on August 18 after he experienced lat tightness. The most recent plan for Paxton, who has missed the entire 2022 season, was to have him back with the Red Sox in September. Signed by the Red Sox in December, Paxton threw just 24 pitches in one start for the Seattle Mariners on April 6, 2021 before undergoing Tommy John surgery. 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.
– The news is more positive for right-hander Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.). He made his second rehab start with the triple-A Gwinnett Braves on Saturday and allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out three. Soroka’s velocity has returned, but he’s still working on his command. Prior to his two triple-A starts, he made one start for the High-A Rome Braves. These starts represent his first game appearances since he tore his right Achilles tendon with the big league Braves on August 3, 2020. A graduate of the Calgary Redbirds and Junior National Team, Soroka was a first-round pick (28th overall) of the Braves in 2015. 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. Unfortunately, his Achilles injury limited him to three starts in the pandemic shortened 2020 campaign. After extensive rehab, Soroka re-tore his Achilles tendon in June 2021 and started the 2022 season on the 60-day injured list. It seems likely that Soroka will make at least one more triple-A start but he could return to the Braves in early September.
– Right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) threw seven scoreless innings for the Cleveland Guardians against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Wednesday to lead the Guardians to a 7-0 win. That was the third time in his last four starts that he has not permitted a run. On August 6, he tossed six scoreless frames against the Houston Astros. Six days later, he held the Blue Jays off the scoreboard – and permitted just one hit – in seven innings. Quantrill is now 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts in August. He has 23 strikeouts in 32 innings. For the season, the Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team alum is 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 24 starts, spanning 143 innings.
-Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) seems to be back on track after enduring a rough July. Last Sunday, he allowed just two runs in 5 1/3 innings to the Baltimore Orioles. This followed seven scoreless innings, in which he permitted just one hit, in his previous start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 16. He is 1-1 with a 3.04 ERA in four starts in August and has lowered his season ERA from 4.51 to 4.24 since the start of the month. He will start for the Red Sox today against the Tampa Bay Rays.
-On this date 53 years ago, Claude Raymond (St. Jean, Que.) became the first Canadian pitcher to register a win for a Canadian major league team when he accomplished the feat for the Montreal Expos in their come-from-behind 9-5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Raymond entered the game in relief in the sixth inning and delivered four scoreless frames for the Expos, allowing just two hits. Raymond would pick up six more wins for the Expos in 1970 and another in 1971.
-I know this will incite “Yeah, but this is not the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays!” responses. But in wake of the Blue Jays’ 12-0 loss to the Angels on Friday, I couldn’t help but think of the 1992 Blue Jays losing a game 22-2 to the Milwaukee Brewers at SkyDome. That game was played 30 years ago today. The Brewers had 31 hits in that game, including five each from Kevin Seitzer and Scott Fletcher. Each of the six Blue Jays pitchers – Jimmy Key, Mike Timlin, Doug Linton, Bob MacDonald, Mark Eichhorn and David Wells – allowed at least three earned runs each. Less than two months later, the Blue Jays won their first World Series title.
-To the chagrin of many Miami Marlins fans on Twitter, Charles Leblanc (Laval, Que.) has been used in a platoon role by Marlins’ skipper Don Mattingly for the past couple of weeks. The right-handed hitting infielder has played almost exclusively against left-handed pitchers. The reduced role hasn’t seemed to phase the 26-year-old Canadian who continues to hit well. He belted his second big league home run on Monday. It was a solo shot off Oakland A’s right-hander Adam Oller in the top of the second inning. For the season, he is hitting .323 in 20 big league games.
-Please take a moment to remember former Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Goody Rosen who was born on this date in 1912. At 5-foot-9, 150 pounds, the Toronto native overcame long odds to play in the majors. The scrappy Canuck, who shagged balls at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Stadium as a kid, made his major league debut as a pinch runner for the Dodgers in the first game of a doubleheader on September 14, 1937. In the second game, he batted leadoff and recorded two hits. Not only was Rosen a steady bat at the top of the Dodgers’ order, he was one of the best defensive outfielders of his time. His 19 outfield assists in 1938 reflect his strong throwing arm. His finest big league season was in 1945 when he hit .325 (third in the National League) and finished in the top 10 in hits, total bases, triples and on-base percentage. His performance earned him a 10th place finish in the MVP voting. After five seasons in Brooklyn, Rosen was sold to the cross-town rival New York Giants on April 27, 1946. The next day, arguably his best in baseball, he notched seven hits in nine at bats and drove in the winning run in each game of a doubleheader sweep of his former team. Rosen finished his career with a .291 batting average and 557 hits in 551 games. For his efforts, he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. He passed away in Toronto on April 6, 1994.
-In recent weeks, I’ve written about Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) being the first full-time Canadian big league manager since George Gibson (London, Ont.) was the dugout boss of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934. But there was another Canadian skipper before Gibson. On this date in 1908, Fred Lake (Cornwallis, N.S.) was named manager of the Boston Red Sox. He would lead the Red Sox to a 22-17 record down the stretch and to an 88-63 record and a third-place finish in 1909 before he moved on to manage the National League’s Boston Doves in 1910. A former catcher/first baseman, Lake hit .232 in parts of five National League seasons with Boston, Louisville and Pittsburgh between 1891 and 1910. He was also a respected scout who discovered and signed Tris Speaker and Smoky Joe Wood among others. He passed away in Boston in 1931.
-During former Toronto Blue Jays ace Dave Stieb’s interview with Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez in the third inning of yesterday’s Sportsnet’s broadcast, Stieb couldn’t remember the name of the pitching coach who taught him his slider. It was Bob Humphreys. Humphreys pitched for the Washington Senators when George Selkirk (Huntsville, Ont.) was their GM. I tracked Humphreys down a few years ago and called him to talk about Selkirk. During the call, Humphreys casually mentioned that he was enlisted by Bobby Mattick to teach Stieb the slider. I just about lost my mind. It was a serendipitous call.
-I would like to extend my condolences to my good friend, former Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame colleague and London baseball historian Stephen Harding whose brother, Chuck, passed away on August 22. I’m thinking of you, Stephen, and sending you strength and my prayers.
-This week’s trivia question: Two Toronto Blue Jays pitchers had two wins each in the 1992 World Series. Who were they? Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Six players have hit more than 200 home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays. Name three of them.) was any three of Carlos Delgado, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Vernon Wells, Joe Carter and George Bell.