Canadian baseball notes: Bo Naylor, Jordan Balazovic, Joey Votto, Stubby Clapp

June 22, 2023

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

There have been plenty of positive Canadian baseball stories from the major leagues this week.

Here’s a summary:

Bo Naylor records first MLB hit

With his brother, Josh, cheering him on from the Cleveland Guardians dugout, Bo Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) registered his first major league hit on Wednesday night when he singled off Oakland A’s right-hander Austin Pruitt in the bottom of the eighth inning.

The younger Naylor would come around to score the game-winning run for the Guardians in the same inning in their 7-6 win. An Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum, Bo, who made his MLB debut on October 1, 2022, was playing in his fourth big league contest this season. In total, the 23-year-old catcher went 1-for-3 with two runs and a walk.

His brother Josh, who turns 26 today, also had a big night at the plate for the Guardians, going 4-for-4. He belted his ninth home run of the season and knocked in two more runs to give him 55 RBIs, which is tied for the fourth-most in the league.

It was the elder Naylor’s second four-hit game this week. He also collected four hits in the Guardians’ 12-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.

Votto homers in return

After missing the Cincinnati Reds’ first 72 games this season while recovering from shoulder surgery, Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) socked a home run in the first game of his return on Monday. Batting sixth and playing first base, Votto added a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth to give the Reds a 5-4 lead over the Colorado Rockies. That lead would hold and the Reds secured their ninth straight win. The Reds have since extended their winning streak to 11 games.

The home run was the 343rd of Votto’s major league career which puts him 40 behind Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) for the all-time Canadian record.

Balazovic shines in MLB debut with Twins

Former Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team right-hander Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.) pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins on Sunday against the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. He allowed two hits and struck out two after relieving Twins right-hander Louie Varland in the fifth inning. The Tigers defeated the Twins 6-4.

Balazovic was called up from triple-A St. Paul on Sunday when they placed right-hander Jorge López on the restricted list. The 24-year-old Canuck had appeared in 14 games (three starts) for the Saints this season. He was 1-1 with a 4.79 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings.

Selected in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB draft by the Twins, the 6-foot-5 right-hander has pitched in parts of seven seasons in the Twins’ system and owns a 24-24 record with a 4.24 ERA in 106 games (82 starts).

Clapp notched first MLB hit 22 years ago

On this date in 2001, Stubby Clapp (Windsor, Ont.) recorded his first big league hit with the St. Louis Cardinals. He pinch-hit for pitcher Luther Hackman in the bottom of the ninth inning and belted a leadoff double off Giants righty Livan Hernandez at Busch Stadium. Unfortunately, he was stranded on base in the Giants’ 10-5 win.

Happy 28th Birthday to Tyler O’Neill!

Cardinals slugger Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) turns 28 today. He has been sidelined with a lower back strain since May 5. Last Friday, John Denton, of, tweeted that O’Neill had been cleared to play catch and had resumed “light agility” and “running drills.” The plan was to have O’Neill begin swinging a bat within the week.

In 29 games this season, the Canuck slugger has batted .228 with two home runs and six RBIs. A two-time Gold Glove Award winner in left field who starred for Canada at the World Baseball Classic in March, O’Neill is coming off an injury-riddled 2022 campaign that saw him miss time due to hamstring issues, neck stiffness, a wrist injury and shoulder soreness. In all, in 96 games in 2022, he batted .228 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs.

Twenty-one years ago, Guiel made his MLB debut

Outfielder Aaron Guiel (Vancouver, B.C.) made his MLB debut with the Kansas City Royals on this date in 2002. He pinch-hit for pitcher Dan Reichert and struck out against right-hander Mark Corey in the ninth inning in the Royals’ 5-1 win over the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.

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