September 4, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:
-Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) took a comebacker travelling 91.4 mph hit by Texas Rangers outfielder Leody Taveras off his calf in the third inning of his start on Friday which knocked him out of the game. The Canadian righty has been a workhorse for the Red Sox this season, making 27 starts, which is tied for the most in the American League. Following the contest, Pivetta was diagnosed with a left calf contusion. Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters on Saturday that there’s a possibility that Pivetta’s next start will be “pushed back.” Pivetta has posted a 9-10 record with a 4.37 ERA and has struck out 145 batters in 150 1/3 innings for the Red Sox this season. No other Red Sox starter has made more than 20 starts or reached 100 innings in 2022.
– Meanwhile, fellow Canuck right-hander Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) was outstanding in his third rehab start for the triple-A Gwinnett Braves on Friday. He allowed just one hit and struck out five in four innings. In his previous two triple-A starts, Soroka had struggled with his command, but it was vastly improved on Friday and he appears to be close to returning to the big league Braves. His recent rehab starts represent his first game appearances since he tore his right Achilles tendon with the 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.
– Right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) enjoyed another excellent start on Tuesday when he allowed just one run on one hit in six innings to lead the Cleveland Guardians to a win over the Baltimore Orioles. Quantrill’s performance earned him his 11th win of the season, which equals his father’s single-season best. Paul, the senior Quantrill, registered 11 wins as a starter with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1995 and as a reliever with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2001. Cal is now 4-0 with a 2.13 ERA in six starts for the Guardians in August. For the season, the Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team alum is 11-5 with a 3.50 ERA in 25 starts, spanning 149 innings, which leaves him 2/3 of an inning shy of setting a career-high for innings pitched.
-On Wednesday, Chicago Cubs closer Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, B.C.) registered a save in his first major league appearance in Canada. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close out the Cubs’ 7-5 win over the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. It was Wick’s ninth save of the season. Now in his fifth big league campaign, the former Vancouver Cannon and Junior National Team member has appeared in a career high 55 games and owns a 4-7 record and a 4.47 ERA. He has 58 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings. The 29-year-old was originally drafted as a catcher by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012.
-St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) has belted four home runs and driven in nine runs in six games since last Sunday’s column. And his single off Chicago Cubs right-hander Adrian Sampson in the first inning on Friday represented his 300th major league hit. The Langley Blaze and Junior National Team grad is now batting .231 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs in 85 games this season.
-It was 15 years ago today that Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) made his major league debut with the Cincinnati Reds. He pinch-hit for reliever Gary Majewski in the bottom of the sixth inning at Great American Ball Park and struck out against New York Mets reliever Guillermo Mota in the Reds’ 11-7 loss. His fortunes, of course, would improve significantly in the subsequent 15 years. The 38-year-old Votto recently underwent season-ending surgery on his left rotator cuff. But he did make another debut of sorts this week — in the Cincinnati Reds’ Bally Sports broadcast booth. Here’s some footage of Votto in the booth, which has drawn rave reviews.
-Speaking of Canadian MLB debuts, it was nine years ago today that Chris Robinson, from my hometown of Dorchester, Ont., played his first major league game. He pinch-hit for Padres outfielder Will Venable in the bottom of the ninth inning and grounded out to shortstop in the Padres’ 13-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. It didn’t matter to me what Robinson did at the plate that day because he had accomplished something remarkable, something that I had always dreamed of doing growing up in our small Southwestern Ontario community — he got to play in the big leagues!
-Joe McFarland, of Alberta Dugout Stories, has written an excellent article about the 40th anniversary of the 1982 Medicine Hat Blue Jays. The longtime Blue Jays’ Rookie ball affiliate won their only Pioneer League championship that year. Among those who contributed to the title were future big leaguers Pat Borders, Jimmy Key and David Wells. McFarland also managed to track down ace pitcher Keith Gilliam and former Jays first-rounder Kash Beauchamp to talk to them for a special podcast about the team. You can tell that McFarland put his heart and soul into this project and it is a delight to read and to listen to the podcast.
-I recently purchased a copy of the just released “The Story of Professional Baseball in Trois-Rivières” by Bob McDuff and Nicole Girard. I received it in the mail this week (photo above). I’m looking forward to diving into this. I’m particularly intrigued to read the chapter about Ken Griffey Sr. playing with the Reds’ double-A Eastern league club in Trois-Rivières in 1971 and 1972 with a very young Ken Griffey Jr. in town with his father. Information on how to purchase the book can be found in this link.
-The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is selling limited edition Babe Ruth prints (numbered to 714) to commemorate the 108th anniversary of Babe Ruth hitting his first professional regular season home run at Toronto’s Hanlan’s Point Stadium on September 5, 1914. Then a 19-year-old Red Sox pitching prospect, Ruth stepped up to the plate in the sixth inning and belted a three-run home run off Toronto Maple Leafs hurler Ellis Johnson at Hanlan’s Point Stadium on Toronto Island. Titled “The Babe and Toronto: A Legend Begins . . . September 5th, 1914,” these prints are signed by the artist, Pam Davies, and are being offered exclusively by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Right now, the Hall is offering a 15 per cent discount on the prints. They usually sell for $50, but with the discount, they are only $42.50 plus tax and shipping per print. Proceeds will go towards the archiving of the Hall’s artifacts. Created in 1985, the Ruth print is 18.5″ (width) by 25″ (length) and features action and profile shots of the Babe, a sketch of the stadium, the game’s box score and the Canada and U.S. flags (See photo above). You can purchase one here.
-This week’s trivia question: Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) has 11 wins this season for the Cleveland Guardians. Who was the last Canadian pitcher to register a win for Cleveland prior to Quantrill? Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Two Toronto Blue Jays pitchers had two wins each in the 1992 World Series. Who were they?) was Jimmy Key and Duane Ward.