James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) is 5-0 for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season. Photo: MLB.com

May 19, 2024

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

Some Canadian baseball news and notes from the past week:

-Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) is off to the best start of his major league career. In eight starts this season, he is 5-0 with a 2.84 ERA and has struck out 24 batters in 44 1/3 innings. The most encouraging sign for him, however, is that he hasn’t walked a batter in his past two starts. Despite his success, the 35-year-old left-hander has had some uncharacteristic control issues this season. His 24 walks are third in the National League. The Junior National Team and North Delta Blue Jays alum is now in his 11th major league season and his first with the Dodgers.

-Over the past month, Colorado Rockies right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) has been one of the best pitchers in the National League. In his last three starts, he is 3-0 with a 0.92 ERA and has 19 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings. In his most recent start, on Tuesday, he limited the San Diego Padres to one run in six innings. With his hot stretch, Quantrill has lowered his season ERA to 3.66 in nine starts. The 29-year-right-hander was traded to the Rockies by the Cleveland Guardians on November 17 after being limited to 19 starts by shoulder woes last season.

-The Chicago White Sox announced on Tuesday that they were moving right-hander Michael Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) to the bullpen. To say it has been a tough start to the season for the Canadian right-hander would be an understatement. In nine starts, he went 0-5 with a 6.39 ERA in 43 2/3 innings. On a positive note, Soroka remains healthy and has made more big league appearances this season than any campaign since 2019. He also tossed four scoreless innings and struck out seven batters in his first relief appearance of the season yesterday in the White Sox 6-1 loss to the Yankees. The 26-year-old righty was traded to the Sox by the Braves on November 16 after appearing in seven big league games (six starts) last season. Those were his first major league outings since he tore his right Achilles tendon for the first time on August 3, 2020.

-Congratulations to Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) who, with his start against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, became just the 19th Canadian pitcher to appear in 200 major league games, according to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. In his start this past week, the 31-year-old righty allowed two runs on four hits, while striking out eight, in 5 2/3 innings in a 5-4 Sox win. It was Pivetta’s second start after being sidelined for more than a month with a right elbow flexor strain. For the season, the Junior National Team grad is 1-2 with a 3.48 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings. Pivetta is in his eighth big league campaign and his fourth with the Sox.

Legendary MLB scout Walt Burrows (Brentwood Bay, B.C.) with Trudy Norton, the wife of the late great Wayne Norton, at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Wednesday. Photo supplied.

-Congratulations to former Minnesota Twins slugger Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.), late Women’s National Team star Amanda Asay (Prince George, B.C.) and the late legendary scout Wayne Norton (Port Moody, B.C.) who were inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Vancouver on Wednesday. You can read more about each of them here.

Legendary MLB scout Walt Burrows (left) with Justin Morneau at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Wednesday. Photo supplied.

-Cleveland Guardians slugger Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) has 12 home runs this season, which ranks third in the American League behind Baltimore Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson and Houston Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker. In his Tip O’Neill Award-winning season last year, Naylor had 17 home runs in 121 games. The Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team grad is leading the Guardians in home runs, slugging percentage (.531) and walks (19) this season. Naylor is in his sixth major league season.

-Speaking of Canadian sluggers, Boston Red Sox outfielder Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) clubbed his 10th home run of the season on Wednesday. It came in his 32nd game of the campaign, and with that, he eclipsed the number of home runs he belted in 72 contests for the St. Louis Cardinals last year. Despite missing a week with a concussion in April, the Langley Blaze and Junior National Team alum is leading the Red Sox in home runs and walks (20) and is second on the team with 26 runs. O’Neill, who was dealt to the Red Sox by the Cardinals on December 8, is in his seventh major league season.

-What Canadian has the most hits in the major leagues this season? It’s not Naylor or O’Neill or even Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.). It’s Abraham Toro (Longueuil, Que.) who has 48 hits for the Oakland A’s, including seven more since I published my column last Sunday. In total, the ABC alum is batting .298 with four home runs. He is leading A’s hitters in hits, runs (24) and batting average. Acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers on November 15, Toro is in his sixth big league season.

-Who was the Toronto Blue Jays catcher in their first regular season game? The answer is Rick Cerone. He turns 70 today. On April 7, 1977, Cerone batted ninth and went 2-for-4 with a double for the Blue Jays in their 9-5 win over the White Sox on that snowy day at Exhibition Stadium. In total, he batted .229 with 11 home runs in 255 games over parts of three seasons with the Blue Jays before they dealt him to the New York Yankees. With the Bronx Bombers, he took over behind the plate for Thurman Munson and batted .277 with 14 home runs and 85 RBIs in 147 games in 1980. For his efforts, he finished seventh in the American League MVP voting. In all, he played 18 major league seasons – including his final one with the Montreal Expos in 1992. You can read more about him in this article I wrote about him in 2021.

-Baseball Canada alum Jacob Robson (Windsor, Ont.) has started this season with the Gastonia Baseball Club of the independent Atlantic League. This comes after playing for the Sydney Blue Sox of the Australian Baseball League this winter. After a strong performance for Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March 2023, Robson, 29, posted a .398 on-base percentage (OBP) in 69 games for the Kansas City Monarchs of the independent American Association last season. Selected in the eighth round of the 2016 MLB draft by the Tigers, Robson played parts of six seasons in the Tigers’ organization, including four games in the majors in 2021. After being released by the Tigers in July 2022, the Junior National team alum signed with the Monarchs and batted .288 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs in 29 games.

-Also beginning the season in the Atlantic League is Tristan Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.), who is suiting up for the Lexington Legends managed by former Blue Jays catcher Gregg Zaun. Pompey spent last season with the Intercounty Baseball League’s Guelph Royals. A Toronto Mets and Junior National Team alum, he was selected in the third round of the 2018 MLB draft by the Marlins out of the University of Kentucky. The switch-hitting outfielder would bat .234 in 151 games in parts of three seasons in the Marlins’ organization, rising as high as triple-A in 2021. The 27-year-old Canuck split 2022 between the independent American Association’s Winnipeg Goldeyes and the Frontier League’s Quebec Capitales.

-This week’s trivia question: By my count, Rick Cerone is one of eight catchers to have caught at least one regular season game for the Blue Jays and Expos during their major league careers. Can you name another catcher to have done this? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.

-The answer to last week’s trivia question (After Felipe Alou, who has the most wins as Montreal Expos manager?) was Buck Rodgers who had 520 wins as Expos skipper.

The post But What Do I Know? . . . James Paxton, Cal Quantrill, Justin Morneau, Josh Naylor appeared first on Cooperstowners in Canada.