May 26, 2024

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

Some Canadian baseball news and notes from the past week:

-Congratulations to Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) who, with his three strikeouts in his start against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday, became just the sixth Canadian to fan 1,000 batters in the big leagues. He joins Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont., 3,192 strikeouts), Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C., 2,075 strikeouts), Erik Bedard (Navan, Ont., 1,246 strikeouts), John Hiller (Toronto, Ont., 1,036 strikeouts) and Kirk McCaskill (Kapuskasing, Ont., 1,003 strikeouts) on that exclusive list. Pivetta recorded his 1,000th strikeout in the third inning when he fanned Brewers catcher William Contreras. Overall, it was a rough outing for Pivetta. He allowed five runs in 3 1/3 innings and was saddled with the loss in the Brewers’ 6-3 win. It was Pivetta’s fourth start since being sidelined for over a month with a right elbow flexor strain. For the season, the Junior National Team grad is 2-3 with a 4.20 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 30 innings. He is in his eighth big league campaign and his fourth with the Sox.

-Canadian Abraham Toro (Longueuil, Que.) has 36 hits in the past 30 days for the Oakland A’s. This is tied for the second-most in the American League (with Aaron Judge) during that period. Kansas Royals third baseman Maikel Garcia leads with 37. The versatile Torro has been used at first base, second base, third base and in the outfield by the A’s this season. He has also been the A’s DH in 11 games. But playing all over the diamond certainly hasn’t hurt his offensive output. In total, the ABC alum is batting .274 with five home runs. He is leading A’s hitters in hits (52) and runs (27). Acquired from the Brewers on November 15, Toro is in his sixth big league season.

-Congratulations to Cleveland Guardians right-hander Cade Smith (Abbotsford, B.C.) who registered his first major league save on Wednesday when he pitched a scoreless ninth inning in his club’s 6-3 win over the New York Mets at Progressive Field. Smith has been outstanding out of the Guardians’ bullpen in his rookie big league campaign. In 23 appearances, spanning 23 1/3 innings, he owns a 1.93 ERA and has 34 strikeouts. Signed by the Guardians as a free agent in 2020 out of the University of Hawaii, the Junior National Team and Abbotsford Cardinals grad topped all Canuck minor league pitchers in 2023 in appearances (47), saves (15) and strikeouts per nine innings (13.6).

– Chicago White Sox right-hander Michael Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) has thrown 6 1/3 scoreless innings and has fanned 10 batters in two appearances since being moved to the bullpen last week. His latest relief effort came against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Wednesday when he struck out three batters in 2 2/3 innings in the White Sox 9-2 loss. His success in the pen has lowered his season ERA to 5.58 in 11 appearances (nine starts). 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 contests since he tore his right Achilles tendon for the first time on August 3, 2020.

Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) has a 1.40 ERA in four starts in May. Photo: Colorado Rockies

-Colorado Rockies right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) had another excellent start on Tuesday, allowing just two runs on three hits, while striking out eight A’s batters, in six innings. In total, in four starts in May, the Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team grad is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA and has 27 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. With his hot stretch, Quantrill has lowered his season ERA to 3.59 in 10 starts. The 29-year-right-hander was traded to the Rockies by the Guardians on November 17 after being limited to 19 starts by shoulder woes last season.

From left to right: Steve Hertz, Jason Bay‘s former coach at Gonzaga University, Jason Bay, Bay’s father Dave and Jim Wasem, who coached five summers in Trail from 1992 to 1996, at the grand opening of Jason Bay Field in Trail, B.C. Photo supplied.

-A grand opening ceremony was held for Jason Bay Field in Trail, B.C. on May 18. Bay threw out the first pitch prior to a Little League game in front of a large crowd that included family and friends. A scoreboard with Bay’s name on it had been erected on the field earlier in the spring. Legendary B.C. baseball coach Luigi DeRosa and a volunteer committee had been working to rename the field in Bay’s honour since 2019. They persevered through the pandemic and a windstorm that damaged the park in January 2021. For more information about Jason Bay Field, you can read this article.

Kids from Trail, B.C., get ready to play on Jason Bay Field on the day of the grand opening ceremony. Photo supplied.

-Former Blue Jay Otto Lopez has been one of the Miami Marlins best players since being called up on April 15. He has taken over as the club’s everyday second baseman and is batting .284 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 27 games. On February 13, Lopez, who lived in Montreal for part of his youth, had his contract sold to the San Francisco Giants by the Blue Jays. He spent spring training with the Giants before he was designated for assignment and claimed on waivers by the Marlins. His tenure with the Marlins marks his first big league action since 2022. Last season, he batted .258 in 84 games with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons, but he missed a large chunk of the campaign due to a left oblique strain. Born in Santo Domingo, D.R., Lopez was signed as an international free agent by the Blue Jays prior to the 2017 season.

-Please take a moment to remember former major league umpire and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Jim McKean who was born in Montreal on this date in 1945. Though he took a circuitous route to the big leagues, McKean evolved into one of the most respected umpires of his generation. After graduating from Montreal’s Monklands High School, McKean became a quarterback with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. He was named the league’s outstanding rookie in 1963 and was part of the Riders’ Grey Cup-winning squad in 1966. A superb all-around athlete, McKean would also serve as a junior hockey referee and as a basketball coach at Concordia University before focusing on umpiring. He began calling games at the minor-pro level in 1970 and worked his first big league game in 1974. During his 28-year major league career, he would oversee seven no-hitters, three All-Star games (1980, 1982, 1993) and three World Series (1979, 1985, 1995). He also served as the third base umpire in Len Barker’s perfect game against the Blue Jays on May 15, 1981. McKean passed away on January 24, 2019 at the age of 73.

Photo: Louisiana Ragin’ Cagins

-Congratulations to ABC Academy alum LP Langevin (Quebec, Que.) who has been named Sun Belt Conference (SBC) Pitcher of the Year. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound right-hander went 6-1 with seven saves for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns this season. He topped SBC pitchers in strikeouts (97) and strikeouts per nine innings (15.22). He is the sixth player in Ragin’ Cajuns’ history to be named SBC Pitcher of the Year. Langevin is the No. 5 prospect on the 2024 Canadian Baseball Network Draft List. You can read more about him here.

-Congratulations also to Tyler Wilson for being named Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Player of the Year after his outstanding season with Grand Canyon University. The 21-year-old outfielder is the son of former big league left-hander Steve Wilson (Victoria, B.C.). Tyler was born in Tainan, Taiwan but grew up in Chandler, Ariz. In 52 games this spring, he hit .383 with 15 homers and 59 RBIs and finished with a 1.132 OPS. He is the ninth ranked prospect on the 2024 Canadian Baseball Network Draft List and yes, because his father was born in Victoria, Tyler would be eligible to play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic.

-This week’s trivia question: Who is the only player to have represented the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays in the MLB All-Star Game (meaning he was chosen as the Expos rep one year and then as the Blue Jays rep in another year)? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.

-The answer to last 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?) was any one of Steve Nicosia, Sal Butera, Charlie O’Brien, Darrin Fletcher, Raul Chavez, Michael Barrett and Randy Knorr. And hats off to Pierre Morin who identified Ken Macha as another. Macha played two games at catcher for the Expos and one for the Blue Jays.

The post But What Do I Know? . . . Nick Pivetta, Abraham Toro, Cade Smith, Jason Bay Field appeared first on Cooperstowners in Canada.