Canadians in the Majors – September 18
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 on 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 finished with a .323 on-base percentage (OBP).
Andrew Albers, North Battleford, Sask., Seattle Mariners
With the return of fellow Canadian lefty James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) and ace Felix Hernandez to the Mariners’ starting rotation this week, Albers was bumped to the bullpen. He pitched five innings in relief of Hernandez against the Texas Rangers on Thursday and picked up his fifth win of the season. He is now 5-1 with a 3.09 ERA and has 26 strikeouts in 32 innings in six games with the Mariners. The Mariners acquired Albers from the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations on August 11.
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 another productive week at the plate, going 7-for-23 (.304 batting average) – including belting his 26th and 27th home runs of the season – in six games. 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. 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 returned to the Blue Jays lineup on Wednesday after being sidelined since August 12 with a left oblique strain. The Canadian catcher has since recorded two doubles and a walk in 11 plate appearances. In total, the 34-year-old veteran is batting .223 with 12 home runs in 84 games this season, while his OBP is a healthy .351.
James Paxton, Ladner, B.C., Seattle Mariners
After being out since August 11 with a left pectoral muscle strain, Paxton started for the Mariners on Friday and allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings in his return. It was a disappointing outing for a club in a wild-card race, but Paxton was on a 50-pitch limit. After the game, Paxton attributed his poor performance to his mechanics being out of whack which made it difficult for him to locate his pitches. Paxton took the loss in that contest and he now owns a 12-4 record and a 2.98 ERA in 21 starts and has 138 strikeouts in 121 innings this season.
Nick Pivetta, Victoria, B.C., Philadelphia Phillies
Pivetta was hit hard in sole start this past week, allowing seven runs on eight hits in five innings to the Miami Marlins on Tuesday. In 23 big league starts in 2017, the 6-foot-5 right-hander is 5-10 with a 6.75 ERA and he has fanned 121 batters in 116 innings.
Dalton Pompey, Mississauga, Ont., Toronto Blue Jays
Pompey reportedly started baseball activities again at the beginning of September, but it’s too late for the speedy outfielder to return to game action this season. The Blue Jays moved him 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-3 on Sunday against the Minnesota Twins in his only start of the past week. In seven games with the Blue Jays since being recalled on September 1, he has three singles in 10 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 with them. 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
The Pirates skipped Taillon’s spot in the rotation this week to give the young right-hander a breather. He had been roughed up for six runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings in his last start against the Chicago Cubs on September 7. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound hurler underwent surgery for testicular cancer on May 8. Taillon, who has Canadian parents, is 7-6 with a 4.78 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 116 2/3 innings in 22 starts with the Pirates this season.
Jesen Therrien, Montreal, Que., Philadelphia Phillies
Therrien has been placed on the 60-day disabled list by the Phillies after being diagnosed with damage to his right ulnar collateral ligament. This could mean Tommy John surgery for the Canadian right-hander. Therrien posted a 8.35 ERA in 15 relief appearances in his first taste of big league action this season. 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 enjoyed yet another excellent week at the plate, going 8-for-18 (.444 batting average) with five more walks in six games. On Friday, he also clubbed his 35th home run of the season to edge closer to the career-high 37 he belted in 2010. Votto leads the National League with a .453 on-base percentage and 125 walks.
Rob Zastryzny, Edmonton, Alta., Chicago Cubs
The 25-year-old lefty did not pitch for the Cubs this past week after allowing seven earned runs on 11 hits in seven innings in the previous week. In 17 minor league appearances between Rookie ball and triple-A this season, the Canadian southpaw posted a 5.17 ERA before he was called up on September 3. He was an effective pitcher for the Cubs down the stretch last season when he had a 1.13 ERA in eight outings, including one start.