August 13, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Some Canadian baseball news and notes from the past week:
-According to Keegan Matheson, of MLB.com, Toronto Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) threw 33 pitches in the bullpen at Rogers Centre on Wednesday and “felt great.” Romano, who was placed on the 15-day injured list on July 29 with back inflammation, is now on a short rehab stint with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Matheson writes that it appears the Blue Jays are targeting Tuesday for Romano’s return. Prior to his IL stint, the 30-year-old Junior National Team alum was leading the American League with 28 saves. He has struck out 51 batters in 42 innings in 44 big league appearances this season.
-After missing games on Tuesday and Wednesday with left knee tightness, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) returned on Thursday and then belted his sixth home run of the season the next day. It was a two-run shot in the fifth inning in the Cards’ 12-8 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. O’Neill has four home runs in his last nine games.
-Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) belted his 12th and 13th home runs of the season on Sunday and Monday respectively. Votto now has 355 major league round-trippers, which moves him into a tie for 91st place on the all-time list with former Milwaukee Brewers slugger Greg Vaughn. Just above him on the list are Yogi Berra (358 home runs) and Joe DiMaggio (361 home runs). He is 30 back of Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) for the most big league home runs by a Canadian. Over the past seven days, Votto also collected five more hits to give him 2,123 for his career. That’s 37 behind Walker for most by a Canadian.
-Boston Red Sox left-hander James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) struck out six in 5 1/3 scoreless innings in his start against the Royals on Thursday to pick up his seventh win of the season. The Canuck southpaw is a strong contender for the American League Comeback Player of the Year award. The 34-year-old Paxton is now 7-3 with a 3.36 ERA and has 90 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings in 15 starts this season. Paxton’s 15 starts with the Red Sox are his first in the regular season since April 6, 2021 with the Seattle Mariners. Since that time, Paxton has endured his second Tommy John surgery, a grade 2 lat tear and, most recently, a hamstring injury.
-Not to be outdone, right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) permitted just two runs, while striking out eight, in five innings, to earn the win in his start for the Red Sox against the Royals on Wednesday. It was Pivetta’s 10th start in 28 appearances this season. Prior to rejoining the rotation, the 30-year-old Junior National Team alum had been outstanding out of the Red Sox bullpen. In 18 relief outings this season, he has posted a 4-2 record and a 2.40 ERA and has registered 60 strikeouts in 45 innings. Overall, he is 8-6 with a 4.16 ERA and has 120 strikeouts in 97 1/3 innings in 28 games.
-Right-hander Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, B.C.) has been lights out for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons since signing a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on August 2. In four relief appearances with the Bisons, he has not allowed a run, while permitting just one hit and fanning eight batters in 4 1/3 innings. After parts of four seasons as an effective reliever with the Chicago Cubs, Wick failed to crack the big league team’s roster out of spring training in March and struggled to an 8.60 ERA in 23 appearances with triple-A Iowa before the Cubs released him on July 15. The Junior National Team alum then signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves but did not appear in a game in their organization before leaving to sign with the Blue Jays.
-Congratulations to Tyler Black (Stouffville, Ont.) who was promoted to the triple-A Nashville Sounds by the Milwaukee Brewers last Sunday. The 23-year-old infielder, who was taken 33rd overall by the Brewers in the 2021 MLB draft, was hitting .273 with a .412 on-base percentage (OBP) in 84 games with the double-A Biloxi Shuckers. With Biloxi, he also had 14 home runs, 16 doubles, eight triples, 47 stolen bases and 61 walks. In his six games with the Sounds so far, he has posted a .333 OBP.
-Cleveland Guardians right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) was hit hard in his first rehab start with the triple-A Columbus Clippers on Wednesday, allowing six runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings. Quantrill was placed on the 15-day injured list by the Guardians for the second time this season on July 6. The 28-year-old Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team grad had just returned from 28 days on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation. After setting career-highs with 15 wins and 186 2/3 innings pitched in 2022, Quantrill has struggled to a 2-6 record with a 6.45 ERA in 13 starts, spanning 67 innings, this season.
-Mariners right-hander Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.) continues to lead American League relievers with 57 appearances this season. The 25-year-old righty has settled into the set-up role for the streaking Mariners who have won 10 of their last 12 games and have moved within a half game of the Blue Jays for the final American League Wild-Card spot. Brash tossed scoreless innings in both of his appearances for the Mariners this week. He picked up another win in relief on Wednesday in the M’s 6-1 victory over the San Diego Padres to improve to 8-3 with a 3.08 ERA on the season. Armed with a devastating slider, he has 82 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings. That’s good for an average of 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
-On this date, 30 years ago, Rickey Henderson, who had gone 8-for-35 (.229 batting average) with the Blue Jays since being acquired from the Oakland A’s on July 31 wearing the No. 14, paid Blue Jays back-up outfielder Turner Ward $25,000 for the jersey number 24, which the stolen base king had worn with the Yankees and A’s. The No. 24 didn’t improve Henderson’s fortunes at the plate. He went 27-for-124 (.218 batting average) in 34 regular season games wearing the number for the Blue Jays, but he did maintain a .372 OBP and steal 20 bases in those contests.
-This week’s trivia question: Larry Walker has the most major league hits by a Canadian and Joey Votto is second. Both are left-handed hitters. Who has the most big league hits by a right-handed hitting Canadian? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.
-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Matt Brash has made 57 relief appearances for the Mariners this season. Who holds the record for most relief appearances by a Canadian in a major league season? ) was Paul Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) who made 89 relief appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003.