Canadians in the Majors – June 5
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
Evan Woodberry of MLive.com reported that Adduci began hitting off a tee last Monday, but is progressing slowly from his oblique injury. It appears likely now that the Canadian outfielder will be out until at least the end of June. The Burnaby, B.C., 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 on May 20. He has struggled since his return, allowing seven runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings in six appearances. 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 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
Martin sat out the Blue Jays’ four-game series with the New York Yankees with a sore neck. Reports have indicated that the injury is minor and that he should be back in the lineup shortly. On May 20, the Canadian catcher had returned from a 12-day tenure on the disabled list due to a nerve issue in his shoulder, and he had been swinging the bat well, going 12-for-35 (.343) – including two home runs – in 10 contests. In five of those 10 games, he has seen action at third base. The 34-year-old Canuck is batting .243 with a .387 OBP and has five home runs in 33 games on the season.
James Paxton, Ladner, B.C, Seattle Mariners
After 26 days on the disabled list due to a forearm strain, Paxton returned to the Mariners and shut out the Colorado Rockies over 5-1/3 innings in his first start back. Through seven big league starts this season, the 6-foot-4 southpaw now owns a 4-0 record with a 1.26 ERA and has registered 51 strikeouts in 43 innings. He’s scheduled to start Tuesday in the opening game of a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field.
Nick Pivetta, Victoria, B.C., Philadelphia Phillies
Multiple reports indicate that Pivetta will be recalled by the Phillies today to replace right-handed starter Vince Velasquez, who’s out indefinitely with an elbow injury. Pivetta will start tonight’s game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park. The Canadian right-hander had been victorious in his two starts back with the triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs since being 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
After going 4-for-14 with four walks in four games with the class-A Dunedin Blue Jays, Pompey was promoted to the triple-A Buffalo Bisons yesterday. Unfortunately, the speedy outfielder injured his leg while stretching to make a catch in the first inning of Sunday’s game. He stayed in the contest until the fourth inning and had a single in two at bats before being removed as a precautionary measure. It doesn’t sound like the injury is serious. 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 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
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 6-for-50 (.120 batting average) in his last 15 games. 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 52 games with the Phillies so far, Saunders is batting .217 with six home runs. While he played almost exclusively left field for the Blue Jays, Saunders has manned right field for the Phillies this season.
Jameson Taillon, Canadian Citizen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Taillon struck out six and allowed one run in five innings in a rehab start with the Pirates’ triple-A Indianapolis Indians on Friday. This was his second rehab start since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer on May 8. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters that he expects the 6-foot-7, 230-pound right-hander to make one more triple-A start on Wednesday before rejoining the Pirates. Taillon, 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
Back in his hometown early last week to collect his sixth Tip O’Neill Award from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Votto socked home runs in the last two games of the Reds series against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. In his last seven games, Votto has gone 6-for-25 with five walks. His slash line for the season is a healthy .286/.414/.571 and his 14 home runs put him on pace to surpass the career-high 37 he belted in 2010.