But What Do I Know? . . . The Naylors, Edouard Julien, Matt Brash, Scott Richmond, Tim Raines

July 30, 2023

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

Some Canadian baseball news and notes from the past week:

-Thursday was a great day for Mississauga, Ontario’s Naylor family. Not only did Bo and Josh Naylor have two hits each for the Cleveland Guardians in their 6-3 win over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, but their younger brother Myles doubled for the Oakland A’s Rookie Ball Arizona Complex League team for his first professional hit. The youngest Naylor became the first Canadian selected in this year’s MLB draft when the A’s chose him 39th overall. He signed with the A’s shortly after the draft, receiving a $2,202,500 signing bonus.

-Speaking of Josh Naylor, his three RBIs for the Guardians on Thursday gave him 79 on the season. That equals his career-high set in 2022. He tied his personal best in 92 games. It took him 122 games to reach that RBI total last year.

-The Toronto Blue Jays placed closer Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) on the 15-day injured list on Saturday with lower back inflammation. The hard-throwing right-hander, who has been bothered by his back since the All-Star Game, was forced to leave Friday’s contest against the Los Angeles Angels with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Romano is leading the American League with 28 saves and has struck out 51 batters in 42 innings in 44 appearances this season. The Blue Jays recalled Nate Pearson from triple-A to take Romano’s place on the active roster.

-Minnesota Twins second baseman Edouard Julien (Quebec City, Que.) has been one of the hottest hitters in the major leagues during the month of July. On Thursday, he belted his 10th home run of the season. It was a solo shot off Seattle Mariners right-hander Bryce Miller in the third inning of the Twins’ 8-7 loss. Six of Julien’s 10 home runs have come this month. During July, Julien owns a .375/.467/.734 slash line and has 24 hits in 21 games. He leads the Twins in batting average (.300), on-base percentage (OBP) (.388), slugging percentage (.539) and on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) (.926).

-Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) added three hits this week and now has 2,112 in his major league career. That leaves him 48 shy of Maple Ridge, B.C. native Larry Walker’s all-time Canadian big league record. The Reds have 56 games left in their season, so it wouldn’t be impossible for Votto to break Walker’s record before the end of the campaign, but it doesn’t seem likely. Votto already owns Canadian major league records for most games (2,022), at bats (7,147), walks (1,352) and All-Star Game selections (6).

-Seattle Mariners reliever Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.) leads American League relievers with 50 appearances this season. Armed with a devastating slider, he continues to strike out batters at an astonishing pace. He now has 74 strikeouts in just 42 1/3 innings. That’s good for an average of 15.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He added a win and a hold to his resume in three appearances since last Sunday. He is 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA on the season.

Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) has hit well in nine games since he was reinstated from the injured list by the St. Louis Cardinals on July 20. He has gone 10-for-31 (.323 batting average), with a .432 OBP, and has four doubles and three RBIs. The Langley Blaze and Junior National Team alum had been sidelined with a lower back strain since May 5. Since his return, he has raised his 2023 batting average from .228 to .252.

-Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) continues to be dominant out of the Boston Red Sox bullpen. On Wednesday, he pitched five more scoreless innings (from the second to the sixth inning) in the Red Sox 7-1 win over the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park. He has pitched 12 scoreless innings in his last three relief outings. On the season, the Junior National Team alum is 7-5 with a 4.11 ERA in 25 appearances (eight starts). He has fanned 100 batters in 81 innings.

-On this date 15 years ago, Scott Richmond (Vancouver, B.C.) made his major league debut with the Blue Jays. But his first big league start was not without controversy. The homegrown righty had been slated to pitch for Canada in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing when the Blue Jays called him up. “I was in minor league camp and I was four months into my [minor league] season when they called me up and I didn’t know anyone on the [major league] team, so these guys have no idea who I am and I get called up and I have a ton of media around me, not just because I got called up, but because I got taken off the Canadian national team roster,” recalled Richmond of the atmosphere in the clubhouse at Rogers Centre before his first major league start, in a 2018 interview. “So, there were a bunch of, ‘Are you upset you’re not going to pitch in the Olympics or are you happy to be here?’ questions. So, I said, ‘Listen, it’s not my call. I grew up to be a major leaguer, not an Olympian. It would’ve been great to do both, but I’m happy with the way things worked out. And if this is my time [to pitch in the big leagues], this is my time. I’m so happy I even have a time.’” After navigating his way through the media mob, Richmond enjoyed his debut and in 2018, he told me he regards it as one of his career highlights. “The first major league game I started, Team Canada was introduced before the game,” said Richmond. “So, they watched my debut. So that was a cool moment for me.” The 6-foot-5 right-hander started against the eventual American League pennant winning Tampa Bay Rays that afternoon and allowed three runs in 5-1/3 innings and the Blue Jays lost 3-2, but it was a strong showing against an elite club. And, for the record, Richmond was also one of the first to sign up to pitch for the national team when he had the opportunity. He was on Canada’s roster for 12 different international tournaments.

-On this date six years ago, longtime Montreal Expos star Tim Raines was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. In his 23-year big league career, Raines was a seven-time All-Star who suited up for 2,502 contests with the Expos, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles and Florida Marlins. In his 13 seasons with the Expos (1979 to 1990, 2001), Raines set franchise records in runs (947), stolen bases (635), triples (82), walks (793), and singles (1,163). He also ranks second in Expos history in batting average (.301) and hits (1,622). From 1981 to 1987, the fleet-footed outfielder was selected to play in seven consecutive All-Star games and was named the MVP of the 1987 Midsummer Classic. During that same period, he also won a National League batting title in 1986 and topped the Senior Circuit in runs twice (1983, 1987) and in stolen bases four times (1981-84). He finished his career with 808 stolen bases, which ranks fifth in major league history.

-Happy 37th Birthday to former Minnesota Twins left-hander Scott Diamond (Guelph, Ont.)! After signing as an amateur free agent with the Braves in 2008, he’d spend three seasons in the Braves’ organization before being selected by the Twins in the Rule 5 draft in December 2010. He’d make seven starts for the Twins in 2011, prior to enjoying a breakout year in 2012 when he led the Twins with 12 wins and posted a 3.54 ERA in 27 starts, spanning 173 innings. He made 24 more starts for the Twins in 2013 before splitting 2014 between the Twins’ and Cincinnati Reds’ triple-A affiliates. The Canuck lefty would spend 2015 with the Tampa Bay Rays’ triple-A Durham Bulls, where he registered a 3.71 ERA in 150-1/3 innings. He made one appearance for the Blue Jays in 2016 before completing his pro career with the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization where he finished 10-7 with a 4.42 ERA in 24 starts.

-This week’s trivia question: Today is Scott Diamond’s birthday. He recorded 19 wins with the Minnesota Twins between 2011 and 2013. Who is the last left-handed Canadian pitcher to earn a win for the Twins? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.

-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Sparky Anderson managed the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs in 1964. What future National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee managed the Leafs in 1965? ) was Dick Williams.

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