* LHP Jeff Francis (North Delta, B.C.), who signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, will be invited to spring training. That and more in Kevin Glew’s weekly column: ‘But What do I Know?’. ….
By Kevin Glew
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
- Quebec baseball pioneer Jean-Pierre Roy passed away on Friday at the age of 94 in Margate, Fla. Roy had been suffering from prostate cancer, but his wife, Jeanne Duval Roy, said that he died from complications related to high blood pressure. Born in Montreal in 1920, Roy began his professional career with the Trois Rivieres Renarts of the Quebec Provincial League in 1940, before he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals. The 5-foot-10 right-hander spent two seasons in the Cards organization before being sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was in the Dodgers’ system, with his hometown Montreal Royals, that Roy would enjoy his greatest success, registering 25 wins in 1945. He returned to the Royals in 1946 and played alongside Jackie Robinson, prior to being called up for a three-game big league stint, which turned out to be his only tenure in the major leagues. Roy continued to pitch in the minor-pro ranks until 1955. In 1969, he became the French radio play-by-play man for the Montreal Expos. Four years later, he shifted to the Expos’ French TV team and served as an analyst on TV broadcasts until 1983. He later worked as a public relations representative for the Expos. For his efforts, Roy was elected to the Montreal Expos Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Quebec Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. You can read Roy’s obituary and express your condolences here.
- The Toronto Blue Jays are looking for a bullpen coach and if they can’t convince Pat Hentgen to return, they should bring back Rick Langford, who was the Blue Jays bullpen coach in 2010 and has served as a roving pitching instructor in the organization for the past few years. This year, the Blue Jays asked Langford, who has been a coach in the Jays organization since 1996, to focus his efforts on the club’s top pitching prospects – a list that included Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris, Kendall Graveman, Robert Osuna and Miguel Castro. Judging by the advances these prospects made in 2014, he did a superb job, and with at least three of these young hurlers likely to pitch for the Jays in 2015, Langford would be a tremendous asset on the big league staff.
- In case you missed it, North Delta, B.C., native Jeff Francis signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. The contract includes an invitation to spring training. The 33-year-old southpaw, who has pitched parts of 10 big league seasons, had short stints with the Cincinnati Reds, Oakland A’s and New York Yankees in 2014. He pitched primarily out of the bullpen this season, but he could serve as a spot starter for the Jays or as rotation insurance in Triple-A.
- One of the most talked-about artifacts in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is the bat that Paul Molitor used to record the first hit in SkyDome history on June 5, 1989. Molitor, then the leadoff hitter for the Milwaukee Brewers, hit a double on the second pitch from Blue Jays left-hander Jimmy Key. An article I recently stumbled upon on TCPalm.com sheds more light on this historic at bat. “They wanted to send the first ball I threw in the new stadium to the Hall of Fame,” recalled Key. “They said I could throw a fastball and that Paul Molitor . . . had agreed to let the first pitch go. But I didn’t trust Molitor so I threw a curveball for a strike, not a fastball . . . I threw a fastball on the second pitch and he got a hit.” By the way, if you’re wondering what Key is up to these days, he has become an excellent golfer. This article reveals that earlier this year, he won his 10th Palm Beach Gardens Golf Association title.
- Happy Birthday to Comox, B.C., native Taylor Green who turns 28 today. Selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 25th round of the 2005 MLB amateur draft, Green played parts of seven seasons in the minors before making his big league debut on August 31, 2011. After suiting for 78 games with the Brewers in 2011 and 2012, Green suffered a hip injury that sidelined him for all of 2013 and more than half of 2014. He split 59 games between the Brewers’ double-A and triple-A affiliates this season and batted .235. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reported on Monday that Green has signed a minor league deal to return to the Brewers organization for 2015.
- Just a reminder that nominations for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame are due on December 1. For more information on how you can nominate someone, click on this link. The 2015 inductees will be announced in February and the induction ceremony is set for June 13.
– Follow Kevin Glew on Twitter @coopincanada