Glew's Canuck big-league look: Adduci, Axford, Pivetta

Canadians in the Majors – May 15
By Kevin Glew
Canadian Baseball Network

This is our weekly rundown of how Canadians are faring in the major leagues:

Jim Adduci, Burnaby, BC, Detroit Tigers
Adduci 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 Wednesday’s game. The left-handed hitting outfielder, who was called up by the Tigers on April 23, told reporters he felt a “grab” in his abdomen after he took his final batting practice swing on Wednesday. He has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, but is expected to be out for longer than that. Adduci, who turns 32 today, 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
If all goes as planned, the 34-year-old reliever, who has been sidelined for the entire season with a shoulder strain, could return to the Oakland A’s bullpen in time for their home stand that begins on Thursday. Axford, who has recorded 144 saves during his eight-year big league career, hurled a scoreless inning for the triple-A Nashville Sounds on Saturday in his first rehab outing. A’s manager Bob Melvin told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the 6-foot-5 righty may only need one more rehab outing before rejoining the A’s. Axford is in the second year of a two-year, $10-million contract with the A’s.

Russell Martin, Montreal Que., Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays catcher was placed on the 10-day disabled list last Monday due to a nerve issue in his shoulder. The Canadian backstop, who was batting .197 with three home runs in 23 games this season, had been having issues with his shoulder since spring training. Martin says he’s experiencing weakness rather than pain and he was having difficulty reaching for balls defensively and while batting. Doctors have recommended rest for Martin, who, according to a report from John Lott of The Athletic, played catch on Sunday for the first time since landing on the DL. There’s no set time line for his return, but it seems unlikely that he’ll be back on Thursday when his 10-day term is up.

James Paxton, Ladner, BC Seattle Mariners
Paxton was off to the best start of his career when he was placed on the 10-day disabled list by the Seattle Mariners on May 5 with a forearm strain. The Canadian lefty first experienced the discomfort after pitching seven shutout innings in his start against the Detroit Tigers on April 26. The pain lingered into his start against the Los Angeles Angels on May 2 in which he allowed one earned run in 5-2/3 innings. Through six starts this season, the 6-foot-4 southpaw owns a 3-0 record with a 1.43 ERA and has registered 45 strikeouts in 37-2/3 innings. Paxton was cleared to begin throwing again on Thursday. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that the Mariners hope Paxton will rejoin the club by the end of its current home stand which extends until May 21.

Nick Pivetta, Victoria, BC, Philadelphia Phillies
The 24-year-old right-hander has made three starts for the Philadelphia Phillies and sports a 0-2 record and a 6.14 ERA in 14-2/3 innings. In his most recent start on Saturday against the Washington Nationals, he allowed four earned runs in 4-2/3 innings. This marked his first big league start in which he didn’t pitch at least five innings. Prior to his major league debut on April 30, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander, who toed the rubber for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, had won all three of his starts with the triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs this season. In those starts, he had posted a 0.95 ERA and struck out 24 batters in 19 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.

Michael Saunders, Victoria, BC, Philadelphia Phillies
Saunders has gotten off to a slow start. After an all-star campaign with the Blue Jays last season, the left-handed hitting outfielder inked a guaranteed one-year, $9-million contract with the Phillies in January. In 34 games with the Phillies so far, Saunders is batting .246 with three home runs in 34 games, primarily out of the fifth spot in the order. While he played almost exclusively left field for the Blue Jays, Saunders has manned right field for the Phillies this season.

Joey Votto, Etobicoke, Ont., Cincinnati Reds
Votto got off to a slow start by his lofty standards, batting .256 in April, but he still walloped eight home runs. But the Reds first baseman has picked up where he left off at the end of last year since the calendar turned May. In 13 contests this month, he’s batting .364 with a .508 OBP and has recorded 14 walks and 14 RBI. The left-handed hitting slugger has also excelled with runners in scoring position this season, going 13-for-30 (.433 batting average) with 22 RBI. He now has 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 37 contests for the season.

Kevin Glew

Regaled with stories about Mickey Mantle by his father, Ralph, when he was growing up, Kevin Glew developed a keen interest in baseball at a young age in Dorchester, Ont. playing against teams from Vienna, Straffordville, St. Thomas, Stratford, Harrietsville, Belmont, London and Sarnia. His interest blossomed into a full-blown fascination after enduring a bone-chilling wind on the bench seats down the right-field line at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto on Oct. 5, 1985 to witness the Blue Jays secure their first division title. Though Dale Murphy was his favourite player, the teenage Glew played more like a poor man's Spike Owen - another of his childhood heroes whom he later had the opportunity to interview. When he realized he had no shot at a big league career, Glew focussed his efforts on becoming a sportswriter. During his tenure in the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa from 1992 to 1996, he watched the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx in their glory years and vividly recalls a young Matt Stairs suiting up for the Lynx.With few jobs in sports journalism available upon graduation, Glew entered the financial services industry. But after eight years of writing about RRSPs, Glew decided it was time to write about RBIs again. Since leaving his position in the financial sector, he has had freelance articles published in Baseball Digest, Baseball America and the London Free Press. He has also contributed to CBC Sports, SLAM! Sports, Rogers Sportsnet and MLB.com. In June 2010, he started a Canadian baseball history blog called Cooperstowners in Canada. You can read his blog here. Glew is also a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. He is available for paid writing gigs and can be reached at kevin.glew@sympatico.ca