Glew's Canuck big league look: Axford, Paxton, Pivetta, Votto

After a rocky start to his season, right-handed reliever John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) has held opponents scoreless in his last four appearances.

After a rocky start to his season, right-handed reliever John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) has held opponents scoreless in his last four appearances.

Canadians in the Majors – June 12

By Kevin Glew

Canadian Baseball Network

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 last Tuesday that Adduci has been hitting in an indoor batting cage and would soon be taking live batting practice. The Burnaby, B.C., native, who has been sidelined with an oblique injury since May 10, has been throwing, but not tracking fly balls in the outfield. Adduci told McCosky that he’s still suffering from “general soreness.” McCosky writes that Adduci will eventually start a rehab assignment in triple-A Toledo, but there’s no set time table for this. The Canadian outfielder 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 on May 20. After struggling in his first six appearances, he has held opponents scoreless in his last four relief outings (4-1/3 innings) and has lowered his ERA from 9.53 to 5.40. Axford, who has recorded 144 saves during his eight-year big league career, 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 be sidelined until late July or early August.

Russell Martin, Montreal Que., Toronto Blue Jays

After sitting out the Blue Jays’ four-game series with the New York Yankees last weekend with a sore neck, Martin has gone 0-for-13 in four games since his return to the lineup. The 34-year-old Canuck is batting .218 with a .366 OBP and has five home runs in 37 games on the season.

James Paxton, Ladner, B.C, Seattle Mariners

The Blue Jays dealt Paxton his first loss of the season on Sunday, when they tallied four runs in four innings off the big lefty. Earlier in the week, Paxton allowed three runs in five innings in a no-decision against the Minnesota Twins. The 28-year-old southpaw returned to the Mariners on May 31 after a 26-day tenure on the disabled with a forearm strain. Through nine big league starts this season, he now owns a 5-1 record with a 2.25 ERA and has registered 58 strikeouts in 52 innings.

Nick Pivetta, Victoria, B.C., Philadelphia Phillies

Pivetta recorded his first major league win with the Phillies last Monday. After being recalled from triple-A that same day, the 6-foot-5 righty held the Atlanta Braves to three runs in five innings at SunTrust Park in the Phils’ 11-4 win. The 24-year-old Canadian followed that up by permitting four runs in five innings to the St. Louis Cardinals to take the loss on Saturday. In six major league starts this season, Pivetta is 1-3 with a 5.52 ERA and he has fanned 27 batters in 29-1/3 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

After going 4-for-14 with four walks in four games with the class-A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays, Pompey was promoted to the triple-A Buffalo Bisons on June 4. Unfortunately, the speedy outfielder injured his leg while stretching to make a catch in the first inning of his first game with the Bisons. He stayed in the contest until the fourth inning and had a single in two at bats before being taken out. He hasn’t played since and there has been no update on his injury. After being sidelined 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, the 24-year-old Pompey did not suit up for a game in the Blue Jays organization until May 16 when he appeared in an extended spring training contest. Pompey had big league stints in each of the past three seasons and he began the 2015 campaign as the Blue Jays’ starting centre fielder. He 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

The left-handed hitting outfielder is in a batting slump. He has gone 7-for-64 (.109 batting average) in his last 21 games and he was used only as a pinch hitter in the Phillies’ Friday and Saturday contests against the St. Louis Cardinals before starting and batting fifth on Sunday. 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 58 games with the Phillies so far, Saunders is batting .203 with six home runs.

Jameson Taillon, Canadian Citizen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported on Saturday that right-hander Jameson Taillon (Canadian citizen) will be activated to start for the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight. Taillon made three rehab starts after undergoing surgery for testicular cancer on May 8. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound hurler, who was selected second overall in the 2010 MLB amateur draft and whose parents are Canadian, 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 enjoyed an excellent week at the plate, registering 11 hits – including four against the Cardinals on Thursday – in 27 at bats (.407 batting average). Four of his 11 hits were home runs. His slash line for the season is a healthy .300/.418/.605 and his 18 home runs put him on pace to surpass the career-high 37 he belted in 2010.