Canadians in the Majors – May 30
By Kevin Glew
This is our weekly rundown of how Canadians are faring in the major leagues:
Jim Adduci, Burnaby, B.C., Detroit Tigers
Chris McCosky of The Detroit News reported that Adduci began throwing lightly on Wednesday. This was the Canadian outfielder’s first baseball activity since being placed on the disabled list with an oblique injury on May 10. Adduci still seems to be at least a couple of weeks away from a return. The Burnaby, BC, native was enjoying his finest stretch as a big leaguer, batting .318 with a .388 on-base percentage (OBP) and a .500 slugging percentage in 13 games with the Detroit Tigers, before he strained his right oblique during batting practice prior to a game on May 10. The left-handed hitting outfielder, who just turned 32, suited up for parts of two major league seasons with the Texas Rangers in 2013 and 2014 prior to starring for the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization in 2015 and 2016.
John Axford, Port Dover, Ont., Oakland A’s
The 34-year-old reliever, who had been sidelined since the beginning of the season with a shoulder strain, was activated by the Oakland A’s last Saturday. He has allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings in four appearances since his return. Axford, who has recorded 144 saves during his eight-year big league career, held opponents scoreless in three minor league rehab outings with the triple-A Nashville Sounds in the week preceding his return to the A’s. Axford is in the second year of a two-year, $10-million contract with the A’s.
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
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 he was hit by a pitch from Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Loup and fractured his wrist in the fifth inning of the Atlanta Braves’ 8-4 win on May 17. 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. At the time of his injury, Freeman was leading the National League in home runs (14), slugging percentage (.748) and OPS (1.209) and was second in OBP (.461) and extra-base hits (26). No surgery was required for his fractured wrist, but he’s expected to have his wrist in a cast for four weeks and to be sidelined for eight-to-10 weeks in total.
Russell Martin, Montreal Que., Toronto Blue Jays
Since his return from a 12-day tenure on the disabled list due to a nerve issue in his shoulder on May 20, Martin has gone 11-for-29 (.379) – including a home run amongst his three hits in Monday’s game – in seven contests for the Blue Jays. Interestingly, in four of those seven games, he has seen action at third base. The 34-year-old Canuck is now batting .238 with a .385 OBP and has four home runs in 31 games on the season.
James Paxton, Ladner, B.C, Seattle Mariners
After tossing 55 pitches over four innings in a rehab start with double-A Arkansas on Friday, Paxton is likely to be activated by the Mariners to start against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. The Canuck lefty was off to the best start of his career when he was placed on the 10-day disabled list by the Seattle Mariners on May 5 with a forearm strain. Paxton first experienced the discomfort after pitching seven shutout innings in his start against the Detroit Tigers on April 26. The pain lingered into his start against the Los Angeles Angels on May 2 in which he allowed one earned run in 5-2/3 innings. Through six starts this season, the 6-foot-4 southpaw owns a 3-0 record with a 1.43 ERA and has registered 45 strikeouts in 37-2/3 innings.
Nick Pivetta, Victoria, B.C., Philadelphia Phillies
Pivetta has been victorious in his first two starts back with the triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs since he was returned to the club by the Phillies on May 18. In those two starts, the 6-foot-5 righty allowed just three runs in 13 innings to run his record to 5-0 with a 1.41 ERA for the IronPigs this season. Between April 30 and May 18, the 24-year-old hurler posted a 0-2 record and a 5.12 ERA in 19-1/3 innings with the big league Phils. Chosen in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB amateur draft by the Washington Nationals, he was dealt to the Phillies for closer Jonathan Papelbon on July 28, 2015.
Dalton Pompey, Mississauga, Ont., Toronto Blue Jays
Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell tweeted on Friday that Pompey is tentatively scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with the class-A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays today. After being sidelined with a concussion since taking a knee to his head when sliding into second base in Canada’s second game in the World Baseball Classic, the 24-year-old Pompey suited up for his first game at extended spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on May 16. The speedy outfielder had big league stints in each of the past three seasons and he began the 2015 campaign as the Blue Jays’ starting centre fielder. Pompey spent the bulk of 2016 in triple-A Buffalo, finishing with a .270/.349/.353 slash line and 18 stolen bases in 93 games.
Michael Saunders, Victoria, B.C., Philadelphia Phillies
Saunders left the Phillies game against the Texas Rangers on May 18 with a groin injury, but he returned to the Phillies lineup the following day. The left-handed hitting outfielder has since gone 5-for-36 (.139 batting average) in his last 11 games. The good news for the Phillies is that three of those hits went for extra-bases – two home runs and a double. Following an all-star campaign with the Blue Jays last season, Saunders inked a guaranteed one-year, $9-million contract with the Phillies in January. In 47 games with the Phillies so far, Saunders is batting .231 with six home runs, primarily out of the fifth spot in the order. While he played almost exclusively left field for the Blue Jays, Saunders has manned right field for the Phillies this season.
Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates
Taillon struck out six in three scoreless innings in his first rehab start with the Pirates’ double-A Altoona Curve on Sunday. This was his first start since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer on May 8. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound right-hander, whose parents are Canadian, was selected second overall in the 2010 MLB amateur draft. The resilient righty, who pitched for Canada in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, was 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 35-1/3 innings in six starts with the Pirates prior to the surgery.
Joey Votto, Etobicoke, Ont., Cincinnati Reds
Votto was back in his hometown on Monday to receive his sixth Tip O’Neill Award from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame prior to the first of three games the Cincinnati Reds will play against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The award was likely the highlight of what’s been an off-week for Votto by his lofty standards. He has gone 5-for-24 with five walks in his last seven games. Still in 26 contests this month, he’s batting .310 with a .474 OBP and has recorded 26 walks and 20 RBIs.