Glew's Canuck Big League Look: Axford, Martin, Paxton, Therrien, Votto
Canadians in the Majors – July 31
By Kevin Glew
This is our weekly rundown of how Canadians are faring in the major leagues:
Jim Adduci, Burnaby, B.C., Detroit Tigers
After being sent back to triple-A last Sunday, the Tigers recalled Adduci again on Friday. The Burnaby, B.C., native has gone 0-for-8 in his two stints with the big league club since returning from an right oblique injury that sidelined him from May 10 to June 27. Earlier this season, Adduci had been 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 before he sustained his oblique injury.
John Axford, Port Dover, Ont., Oakland A’s
The A’s designated Axford for assignment on Thursday, prior to the final game of the club’s four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays. The 34-year-old right-hander failed to register an out – allowing a single and two walks – in a relief appearance in the first game of the Blue Jays series. The 6-foot-5 reliever has yet to find his form this season after beginning the campaign on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury. In 22 appearances, he has posted a 6.43 ERA. The A’s have until Thursday to trade, waive or release the Canadian hurler. If he is released, the A’s will have to eat the rest of Axford’s $5.5-million salary for this season, minus the pro-rated major-league minimum if he eventually lands with another club.
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Freeman went 5-for-24 (.208 batting average) – with two doubles and zero RBIs – in six games over the past week for the Braves. The left-handed hitting infielder has played third base in 14 of 21 games and has made only one error since returning from a broken wrist on July 4. He agreed to switch to third to keep the hot hitting bat of first baseman Matt Adams in the lineup. 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 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.
Russell Martin, Montreal, Que., Toronto Blue Jays
On Sunday, Martin suited up for his 1,500th major league game to become just the fifth Canadian to reach that milestone. Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, BC), Matt Stairs (Fredericton, NB), Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC) and Terry Puhl (Melville, Sask.) are the others to play that many games. Martin went 6-for-18 (.333 batting average) and belted his 10th home run of the season in six games this past week. The 34-year-old vet, who continues to bat in the No. 2 spot in the Blue Jays lineup, is now batting .225 for the season, while his OBP is .359.
James Paxton, Ladner, B.C., Seattle Mariners
After hurling seven scoreless innings and striking out 10 against the Houston Astros last Monday, Paxton followed that up by tossing six shutout innings and striking out eight against the New York Mets on Sunday. The Canadian lefty is the frontrunner for the American League Pitcher of the Month for July. In six July starts, he is 6-0 with a 1.37 ERA and has allowed just 25 hits in 39 1/3 innings while striking out 46. For the season, he now owns an 11-3 record with a 2.68 ERA and has 125 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings in 18 starts
Nick Pivetta, Victoria, B.C., Philadelphia Phillies
Pivetta was saddled with his sixth loss on Tuesday when the Houston Astros tallied five runs in six innings off him, though he did strike out seven batters. His season ERA now sits at 5.73 in 14 starts and he has fanned 78 batters in 75 1/3 innings. 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
Pompey’s season appears to be over. The Blue Jays moved the speedy 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. As part of his latest rehab assignment, after three games with the class-A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays, Pompey was promoted to the Bisons on July 4. The speedy outfielder had gone 1-for-15 in four games with the Bisons. The knee injury comes 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
The former All-Star’s bat was just starting to heat up with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons when he reportedly tweaked a hip flexor last Sunday. He went 2-for-5 on Friday against the Louisville Bats in the only game he played this past week. Saunders was released by the Philadelphia Phillies on June 25 after batting .205 with a .257 OBP in 50 games this season. Following his career-best campaign with the Blue Jays in 2016, Saunders inked a guaranteed one-year, $9-million contract with the Phillies in January.
Jameson Taillon, Canadian Citizen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Taillon was rocked for nine runs in three innings last Tuesday by the San Francisco Giants in the Pirates’ 11-3 loss. It was the 6-foot-7, 230-pound hurler’s fourth loss of the season and his eighth start back since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer on May 8. Taillon, who was selected second overall in the 2010 MLB amateur draft and whose parents are Canadian, is now 6-4 with a 4.03 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 76 innings in 14 starts with the Pirates this season.
Jesen Therrien, Montreal, Que., Philadelphia Phillies
Therrien was recalled by the Phillies on Friday and made his major league debut when he pitched a scoreless sixth inning in the Phils’ 4-3 win over the Braves on Saturday. After being scouted by Canadian Alex Agostino, the 6-foot-2 right-hander 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 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 belted his 248th major league home run on Friday to move past Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.) into third place on the all-time Canadian home run list. That homer was part of a strong week at the plate that saw the Etobicoke, Ont., native go 8-for-20 (.400 batting average) with seven walks in seven games. The Cincinnati Reds first baseman leads the National League in walks (78) and is tied for third in home runs (27).