September 3, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Some Canadian baseball news and notes from the past week:
-Right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) was activated by the Cleveland Guardians on Friday to start against the Tampa Bay Rays at Progressive Field. In his first big league appearance since July 5, the Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team alum allowed just two runs on two hits in six innings in the Guardians’ 3-2 win. Quantrill had made four minor league rehab starts before his big league return. The 6-foot-3 right-hander was placed on the 15-day injured list by the Guardians for the second time this season on July 6. He had just returned from nearly a month on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation. With his strong start on Friday, the 28-year-old Canuck is now 2-6 with a 6.16 ERA in 14 major league starts this season.
-Guardians catcher Bo Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) continues to swing a hot bat. It was his RBI double in the seventh inning on Friday that knocked in what proved to be the winning run in the Guardians’ 3-2 victory. Prior to that, Naylor had homered in his last three starts behind the plate. In his past 10 games, Naylor is 9-for-28 (.321 batting average) with three home runs and six RBIs. Overall, the 23-year-old Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum is batting .221 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs in 50 games this season.
-Bo’s older brother, Josh, has been on a rehab assignment with the double-A Akron RubberDucks. The left-handed hitting slugger has been on the injured list since August 1 with an oblique strain. He went 4-for-9 (.444 batting average) in three games with the RubberDucks and is expected to be activated by the Guardians shortly. The injury was a tough break for Naylor who was enjoying his best major league season. In 96 games with the Guardians in 2023, he is batting .306 and has tied his career-best with 79 RBIs. The 26-year-old Naylor, who’s in his fifth major league season, had been particularly productive in June and July. In 24 games in June, he had a .373/.393/.530 slash line and had two home runs and 18 RBIs. He followed that up with 31 hits – including five home runs – in July.
-Boston Red Sox left-hander James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) has been hit hard in his past three starts. On Friday, he permitted six runs in 1 1/3 innings to the Kansas City Royals and has allowed 16 earned runs in his last 9 2/3 innings. “Not a lot of feel with the breaking ball right now. Fastball feels lifeless,” Paxton told reporters after his start on Friday. “Trying to figure things out mechanically. It’s just not feeling good right now.” The 34-year-old is now 7-5 with a 4.50 ERA and has 101 strikeouts in 96 innings in 19 starts this season. His 19 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 a hamstring injury.
-Seattle Mariners reliever Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.) continues to lead American League pitchers in appearances. The durable right-hander has pitched in 66 games heading into today’s game against the New York Mets. Brash, who is sharing Mariners’ closing duties with Andres Munoz, owns a 3.39 ERA and has struck out 93 batters in 58 1/3 innings this season. That’s good for a rate of 14.3 strikeout per nine innings.
-It was 12 years ago today that George Kottaras (Scarborough, Ont.) hit for the cycle for the Milwaukee Brewers, which made him the first – and still only – Canadian to hit for the cycle in the big leagues since 1900. Batting seventh and starting at catcher for the Brewers, Kottaras went 4-for-5 to lead his club to an 8-2 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Kottaras’s cycle was the first by a Canadian since Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers Tip O’Neill (Woodstock, Ont.) and George Wood (Pownal, P.E.I.) achieved this feat in the late 19th century.
-Thanks to longtime Windsor baseball executive and scorekeeping ace Jerry Soulliere for sharing this footage of an 18-year-old Shohei Ohtani pitching against Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championships. The Canadian batters facing Ohtani in this footage are Jacob Robson (Windsor, Ont.), Kyle Hann (Oakville, Ont.), Nathan DeSouza (Milton, Ont.), Gareth Morgan (North York, Ont.), Brett Siddall (Windsor, Ont.), Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.), Daniel Piniero (Toronto, Ont.), Owen Spiwak (Mississauga, Ont.) and Jesse Hodges (Victoria, BC). And that’s left-hander Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, Ont.) pitching for Canada. Thanks also to Adam Morissette, of Baseball Canada, for sharing this photo of Ohtani hitting against Canada in that tournament. That’s Spiwak behind the dish for Canada.
-On this date 34 years ago, John Olerud made his major league debut with the Toronto Blue Jays. He pinch-hit for first baseman Fred McGriff in the bottom of the ninth and singled and eventually came around to score in the Blue Jays’ 9-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins at SkyDome. With that, Olerud became just the second Blue Jays player (to catcher Brian Milner on June 23, 1978) to skip the minors and make their professional debut with the big league club.
-This will never happen, but the Blue Jays’ best September call-up this year might be Buffalo Bisons hitting coach Matt Hague. If you need convincing, check out how much Davis Schneider, Ernie Clement, Spencer Horwitz, Nathan Lukes and Rafael Lantigua improved from their 2022 seasons with Hague as their triple-A hitting coach in 2023. I’ll be really surprised if Hague is not considered for the Blue Jays’ big league hitting coach position next year.
-On this date 22 years ago, Montreal Expos outfield prospect Jason Bay (Trail, B.C.) clinched the class-A Midwest League batting title, by finishing with a .362 batting average with the Clinton LumberKings. Bay also added 13 home runs and 67 RBIs. Unfortunately, Bay, who had been a 22nd round pick by the Expos in 2000, would be dealt to the New York Mets the ensuing spring. He followed that up with a short stint in the Padres organization before he became a star with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’d go on to enjoy an excellent 11-year big league career that also included tenures with the Red Sox, Mets and Mariners. He ranks in the top 10 in most of the all-time offensive statistical categories among Canadian major leaguers, including fifth in home runs (222) and sixth in slugging percentage (.481), on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) (.841) and walks (636). For his efforts, he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.
-This week’s trivia question: Who was the first Toronto Blue Jays player to record 100 RBIs in a season? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.
-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Aside from Eric Gagne, John Axford and Jordan Romano, name another Canadian who has had a 30-save season in the major leagues.) was one of John Hiller (Toronto, Ont.) and Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.).
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