Canadians in the Majors – September 25
By Kevin Glew
This is my weekly rundown of how Canadians are faring in the major leagues:
Jim Adduci, Burnaby, B.C., Detroit Tigers
Adduci enjoyed three separate big league stints with the Detroit Tigers this season, but he spent the last portion of the campaign with the triple-A Toledo Mud Hens after he was sent down August 12. He was not called up by the Tigers in September. In 29 contests with the Tigers this season, the Burnaby, B.C., native went 20-for-83 (.241 batting average) and he finished with a .323 on-base percentage (OBP).
Andrew Albers, North Battleford, Sask., Seattle Mariners
In his second relief appearance with the Mariners in the past two weeks (both in relief of Felix Hernandez), Albers surrendered a grand slam to Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor in the fourth inning on Wednesday. The Canadian lefty lasted 1 2/3 innings in that outing and gave up four hits. He is now 5-1 with a 3.48 ERA and has 29 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings in seven games with the Mariners.
John Axford, Port Dover, Ont., Free Agent
The Oakland A’s released Axford on August 1 and he remains a free agent. The 6-foot-5 reliever had troubles finding his form this season after beginning the campaign on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury. In 22 appearances with the A’s, he walked 17 batters in 21 innings and posted a 6.43 ERA.
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Freeman had a quiet week at the plate, going 4-for-18 (.222) in five games. He did, however, belt his 28th home run of the season on Wednesday. After competing for Canada in this year’s World Baseball Classic as a tribute to his late mother, Freeman was enjoying an MVP-calibre season before his wrist was fractured when he was hit by a pitch from Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Loup on May 18. He would miss six weeks with the injury. Freeman’s mother, Rosemary, who was born in Toronto and grew up in Peterborough, Ont., eventually moved to Windsor, Ont., where she met Freeman’s father, Fred, and the couple moved to California. Freeman’s mother passed away after battling cancer in 2000 at age 47 when Freeman was 10.
Russell Martin, Montreal, Que., Toronto Blue Jays
Martin had four extra-base hits – including a two-run double, a three-run double and a two-run home run (his 13th of the season) – in 13 at bats (.308 batting average) over the past week. The 34-year-old veteran is now batting .226 with 13 home runs in 88 games this season, while his OBP is a healthy .349.
James Paxton, Ladner, B.C., Seattle Mariners
Paxton was roughed up for his second consecutive start since returning from the left pectoral muscle strain that sidelined him for more than a month. On Thursday, the hard-throwing southpaw allowed two runs on four hits in 3 2/3 innings and took the loss against the Texas Rangers. On a more positive note, Paxton was named the Mariners’ Pitcher of the Year by the Seattle chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) on Friday. Paxton now owns a 12-5 record with a 3.03 ERA in 22 starts and has 142 strikeouts in 124 2/3 innings.
Nick Pivetta, Victoria, B.C., Philadelphia Phillies
Pivetta enjoyed the best week of his major league career, picking up two wins and allowing just two runs and striking out 12 in a combined 12 innings. On Monday, he permitted two runs on four hits in six innings to notch a win against the National League-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. He followed that up by hurling six shutout innings against the Braves on Sunday. In 25 big league starts this season, the 6-foot-5 right-hander is 7-10 with a 6.26 ERA and he has fanned 133 batters in 128 innings.
Dalton Pompey, Mississauga, Ont., Toronto Blue Jays
Pompey reportedly started baseball activities again at the beginning of the month, but it’s too late for the speedy outfielder to return to game action this season. The Blue Jays moved the Mississauga, Ont., native to the 60-day disabled list on July 19 due to a nagging knee injury. Pompey has not played since appearing in a game for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons on July 8. The knee injury came after Pompey was sidelined for nearly two months with a concussion after taking a knee to his head when sliding into second base in Canada’s second game of the World Baseball Classic.
Michael Saunders, Victoria, B.C., Toronto Blue Jays
Saunders went 0-for-2 with a run in two games this past week. In nine contests with the Blue Jays since being recalled on September 1, he has three singles in 12 at bats. It had been a long road back to the big leagues for the left-handed hitting outfielder who after last season’s all-star campaign with the Blue Jays inked a guaranteed one-year, $9-million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. But the Victoria, B.C., native was released by the Phillies on June 25 after batting .205 with a .257 OBP in 50 games. He then signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays and batted .274 with two home runs in 35 games with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons before being recalled.
Jameson Taillon, Canadian Citizen, Pittsburgh Pirates
After the Pirates skipped Taillon’s spot in the rotation the previous week, the 6-foot-7 right-hander returned with two effective starts. On Monday, he limited the Milwaukee Brewers to two runs in five innings but took the loss. He then held the St. Louis Cardinals to one run on four hits in five innings on Sunday to earn his eighth win of the season. The 25-year-old hurler, who has Canadian parents, underwent surgery for testicular cancer on May 8. He is 8-7 with a 4.62 ERA with 120 strikeouts in 126 2/3 innings in 24 starts with the Pirates this season.
Jesen Therrien, Montreal, Que., Philadelphia Phillies
Montreal native Jesen Therrien underwent Tommy John surgery this week and will miss the 2018 season. He had been placed on the 60-day disabled list by the Philadelphia Phillies on September 11 after being diagnosed with damage to his right ulnar collateral ligament. Therrien posted an 8.35 ERA in 15 relief appearances in his first taste of big league action in 2017. Scouted by Canadian Alex Agostino, Therrien was selected in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Phillies. The 24-year-old hurler was dominant in double-A and triple-A in 2017, posting a combined 1.41 ERA in 57-1/3 innings while registering 65 strikeouts.
Joey Votto, Etobicoke, Ont., Cincinnati Reds
Votto had another productive week, going 7-for-22 (.318) with five more walks in six games. He did not homer, so his season total sits at 35, two shy of the career-high 37 he belted in 2010. Votto leads the National League with a .452 on-base percentage and 130 walks.
Rob Zastryzny, Edmonton, Alta., Chicago Cubs
The 25-year-old lefty has not pitched for the Cubs since September 9. After being called up on September 3, he allowed seven earned runs on 11 hits in seven innings in two appearances with the big league club. In 17 minor league outings – including 10 starts – between Rookie ball and triple-A this season, the Canadian southpaw posted a 5.17 ERA. Zastryzny was an effective pitcher for the Cubs down the stretch last season when he recorded a 1.13 ERA in eight games, including one start.