Glew's Canuck big league look: Albers, Pivetta, Saunders, Votto
Canadians in the Majors – September 4
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 has enjoyed three separate big league stints with the Detroit Tigers this season, but he has been with the triple-A Toledo Mud Hens since August 12. In seven triple-A games this past week, he went 9-for-28 (.321 batting average) and belted his fourth home run of the season for the Mud Hens on Wednesday. He has now hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. The Burnaby, B.C., native has battled back from a right oblique injury that sidelined him from May 10 to June 27. In 29 contests with the Tigers this season, he is 20-for-83 (.241 batting average) and he owns a .323 on-base percentage (OBP).
Andrew Albers, North Battleford, Sask., Seattle Mariners
Albers carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his start on Sunday until Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson socked a solo home run off of him. That was the only hit the 31-year-old southpaw would allow in six innings in the Mariners' 10-2 win. He is now 3-1 with a 3.43 ERA and has 16 strikeouts in 21 innings in four starts with the Mariners this season. The Mariners acquired Albers from the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations on August 11 and he has assumed the rotation spot of fellow Canadian lefty James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) who’s sidelined with a left pectoral muscle strain.
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 went 7-for-29 (.241 batting average) and belted his 23rd and 24th home runs in seven games this past week, despite still being hampered by a lack of strength in his wrist that was fractured by a pitch from Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Loup on May 18. Freeman missed approximately six weeks with the injury. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves will examine Freeman’s wrist for structural damage today. 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 with Loup's pitch. 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 was placed on the 10-day disabled on August 12 with a left oblique strain. The last update I can find about the Canadian catcher came from the Toronto Sun’s Rob Longley who indicated on August 19 that Martin had gone to Dunedin, Fla., for some rehab work and was not close to returning. The 34-year-old veteran has batted .223 with 12 home runs in 81 games this season, while his OBP is a healthy .354.
James Paxton, Ladner, B.C., Seattle Mariners
Josh Horton of MLB.com reported that Paxton, who has been sidelined since August 11 with a left pectoral muscle strain, threw a pain-free, 27-pitch bullpen session on Saturday at 75 per cent intensity. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune shared that Paxton will throw another bullpen session on Tuesday and if everything goes as planned, the 6-foot-4 southpaw will pitch a simulated game on Saturday. The Mariners hope to have him back in their rotation in mid-September. With a 12-3 record and a 2.78 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 119 2/3 innings in 20 starts this season, Paxton had put himself in the conversation for the American League Cy Young Award. This is the Canadian lefty’s second stint on the DL this season. He was previously sidelined from May 5 to May 31 with a left forearm strain.
Nick Pivetta, Victoria, B.C., Philadelphia Phillies
Pivetta limited the Miami Marlins to one run on four hits and fanned six batters in six innings on Friday, but did not receive a decision in the Phillies’ eventual 2-1 victory. In 21 big league starts this season, the 6-foot-5 right-hander is 5-9 with a 6.28 ERA and he has fanned 112 batters in 106 innings.
Dalton Pompey, Mississauga, Ont., Toronto Blue Jays
MLB.com's Keegan Matheson reported on Wednesday that Pompey has resumed baseball activities, but it's unlikely that the speedy outfielder will return to game action in 2017. 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 in the World Baseball Classic.
Michael Saunders, Victoria, B.C., Toronto Blue Jays
Saunders had an RBI single in the seventh inning for the Blue Jays on Sunday. That represented his first hit since being promoted from the triple-A Buffalo Bisons in the club’s first wave of September call-ups. It was a humbling 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. 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 landed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays and batted .274 with two home runs in 35 games with the triple-A Bisons before being recalled.
Jameson Taillon, Canadian Citizen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Taillon tossed six shutout innings and held the Cincinnati Reds to three hits on Saturday, but recorded a no decision in the Pirates’ 5-0 victory. It was the 6-foot-7, 230-pound hurler’s 14th start back since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer on May 8. Taillon, who was selected second overall in the 2010 MLB draft and whose parents are Canadian, is now 7-5 with a 4.50 ERA with 107 strikeouts in 112 innings in 21 starts with the Pirates this season.
Jesen Therrien, Montreal, Que., Philadelphia Phillies
Therrien permitted three earned runs on six hits in three innings on Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves in his sole appearance this past week. His ERA now sits at 9.00 in 14 contests for the Phillies this season. Scouted by Canadian Alex Agostino, Therrien was selected in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Phillies. Now in his sixth season in the Phillies organization, the 24-year-old hurler had been 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
It was another strong week for Votto at the plate. He went 7-for-21 (.333) with five walks. On Thursday, he clubbed his 34th home run of the season, edging him closer to the career-high 37 he belted in 2010. Votto leads the National League with a .448 on-base percentage and 114 walks.
Rob Zastryzny, Edmonton, Alta., Chicago Cubs
The 25-year-old lefty was recalled by the Cubs on Sunday. Zastryzny made one appearance with the Cubs earlier this season. On May 6, he allowed three runs in four innings against the New York Yankees in an 11-6 Cubs’ loss. In 17 appearances – including 10 starts - between rookie ball and triple-A this season, the Canuck southpaw posted a 5.17 ERA. Zastryzny was effective for the Cubs down the stretch last season when he recorded a 1.13 ERA in eight outings, including one start.