Canadians in the Majors – July 10
By Kevin Glew
This is our weekly rundown of how Canadians are faring in the major leagues:
Jim Adduci, Burnaby, B.C., Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers activated Adduci from the disabled list on Wednesday and optioned him to the triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. The left-handed hitting outfielder has gone 9-for-47 (.191 batting average) in 12 games since beginning a rehab assignment with the Mud Hens on June 27. The Burnaby, BC, 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 Tigers, before he strained his right oblique during batting practice prior to a game on May 10. Adduci, who turned 32 in May, 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 right-hander had another rough week, allowing two runs and walking five in 1 1/3 innings in two appearances. His season ERA now sits a 6.30 ERA in 20 innings of work. But Axford remains philosophical about his struggles. On Sunday, he tweeted out a famous Robert Frost quote, “The best way out is always through.”
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Freeman has been hot since being activated by the Atlanta Braves on U.S. Independence Day, going 10-for-26 (.385 batting average) with two home runs and eight RBIs in six games. Freeman has played third base in five of those contests and has made just one error. He agreed to switch to the hot corner after returning from his broken wrist 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
Martin had an excellent week at the plate, going 9-for-22 (.409 batting average) in six games, and homering in back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday. The 34-year-old vet, who has been moved up to the No. 2 spot in the Blue Jays lineup, boosted his season batting average to .235, while his OBP is an impressive .378.
James Paxton, Ladner, B.C., Seattle Mariners
Paxton held the Oakland A’s to two runs on two hits in seven innings to earn his seventh win of the season on Friday. The Canadian southpaw also tied his season-high with nine strikeouts. After struggling in his first four starts in June following a 26-day tenure on the disabled list with a forearm strain, Paxton has allowed just six earned runs in his past three starts. Through 14 big league starts this season, he now owns a 7-3 record with a 3.21 ERA and has registered 91 strikeouts in 81-1/3 innings.
Nick Pivetta, Victoria, B.C., Philadelphia Phillies
Pivetta enjoyed another solid start on Friday against the San Diego Padres, permitting just five hits and three runs over seven innings while striking out nine. Unfortunately, he received a no-decision in that game that the Phillies eventually lost 4-3. After the 6-foot-5 right-hander’s strong performance on Friday, his ERA now sits at 4.73 in 11 starts and he has fanned 62 batters in 59 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 three games with the class-A Dunedin Blue Jays, Pompey was promoted to the triple-A Buffalo Bisons on Tuesday as part of his latest rehab stint. The speedy outfielder has gone 1-for-15 in four games with the Bisons. Pompey is rehabbing from a leg injury he sustained on June 4 while stretching to make a catch in his previous rehab stint with the Bisons. This came after he 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 was signed to a minor league deal by the Blue Jays on June 28 and in nine games since reporting to triple-A Buffalo, he has gone 5-for-34 (.147 batting average) with a home run and six RBI. He was released by the Phillies on June 25 after batting .205 with a .257 OBP in 50 games earlier this season. Following his career-best campaign with the Blue Jays last year that earned him a spot on the American League all-star team, Saunders inked a guaranteed one-year, $9-million contract with the Phillies in January.
Jameson Taillon, Canadian Citizen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Taillon tossed five scoreless innings and struck out nine to lead the Pirates over the Phillies on July 4. It was the 6-foot-7, 230-pound hurler’s fifth win of the season and his fifth 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 5-2 with a 2.73 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 62-2/3 innings in 11 starts with the Pirates this season.
Joey Votto, Etobicoke, Ont., Cincinnati Reds
Votto is headed to the All-Star Game in Miami on Tuesday. He enjoyed another solid week at the plate, registering seven hits, including three home runs, six walks and nine RBI in seven games. His home run in Saturday’s contest was the 247th of his career, which ties him with New Westminster, B.C., native Justin Morneau for the third-most by a Canadian (Thanks to Scott Crawford at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for the reminder on this). The Cincinnati Reds first baseman leads the National League in home runs (26), slugging percentage (.631) and on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) (1.058).