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Joey Votto of Cincinnati Reds apologizes to James Paxton, Canada for remarks

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Joey Votto apologized for his comments belittling fellow Canadian James Paxton‘s accomplishment of throwing a no-hitter in Toronto, writing that his remarks “came out of a side of jealousy.”

Votto, who is from Toronto, said in a podcast released Tuesday by Yahoo! Sports that he “couldn’t give a rat’s ass” about Paxton being the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter on his home country’s soil.

“I don’t care almost at all about Canadian baseball,” Votto said on the podcast. “I wasn’t raised inside of Canadian baseball really. I’m coming up on half of my life being in the United States working and being supported by American baseball.”

“Clearly my reply came out of a side of jealousy for a Canadian baseball athlete being celebrated in the city of Toronto. It was an odd reply and one I am terribly ashamed of.”

Joey Votto, in apology written for Canadian Baseball Network

He added: “As far as Toronto, and Canadian baseball, and the country of Canada, and (James Paxton) being Canadian, I don’t care at all.”

In an apology written for the Canadian Baseball Network, Votto said he was “ridiculously selfish and short-sighted” with his answer and is “saddened that I was so flagrant with my remarks and more importantly that I offended so many people that mean so much to me.”

Votto won the Lou Marsh Award in 2017 as Canada’s athlete of the year, the second time he won the award, and he played for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in 2009 and 2013. But those appearances didn’t come until he was already established in the majors as an All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds.

“When asked about baseball in Canada, the Blue Jays and specifically this event, it took me back to the times and my resentment for not making Team Canada in high school, not being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school, or not being picked for the Olympic team while in the minor leagues,” he wrote.

“Clearly my reply came out of a side of jealousy for a Canadian baseball athlete being celebrated in the city of Toronto. It was an odd reply and one I am terribly ashamed of.”

Paxton, who is from British Columbia, threw his no-hitter in the Seattle Mariners‘ 5-0 victory over the Blue Jays on May 8.

“To James Paxton, the Blue Jays, the Toronto fans, the women and men all across Canada that work so hard to promote and support Canadian baseball, I am sorry for my selfish comments and I humbly ask for your forgiveness,” Votto wrote.

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MLB — Real or Not? Ronald Acuna Jr., instant superstar

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The first thing that strikes you about Ronald Acuna Jr. is how much this kid enjoys playing the game. He’s flat-out fun to watch and not just because he’s doing things we’ve never seen from someone so young. He brings that extra flair that carries the enthusiasm of youth with the air of the spectacular, with his tongue sticking out during a theatrical trot around the bases or a smile as wide as the Atlantic. He’s good and he knows he’s good, and this is OK.

The 20-year-old phenom continued to blast his way into the record books with two more home runs in the Atlanta Braves‘ 10-5 victory over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday:

Over this historic eight-game run, Acuna has 16 hits and eight home runs, giving us this impressive list of accomplishments:

A week ago, Acuna was hitting .261/.321/.478. He’s now hitting .288/.346/.576, raising his OPS 122 points. There’s no other to way put this: When you’re this good this fast, you have clearly established not only the possibility of becoming the best player in the game, but comparisons to other 20-year-old stars like Ken Griffey Jr. or Mike Trout no longer feel outrageous or silly.

In the case of Griffey, that comparison extends beyond the performance on the field. During a week when we heard the needless and silly apology from the Cubs’ David Bote for celebrating his walk-off grand slam on Sunday with a bat flip, Acuna is a reminder that — like when a young Griffey wore his hat backward — we should just go with it and enjoy the show.

And what a show it has been. For the season, Acuna has hit nearly everything thrown his way:

OK, you can get him out with sliders off the plate and sinkers down and away, but he has the bat speed to catch up to any fastball and has shown the precious aptitude to adjust to the slow stuff. There’s certainly room for improvement — his strikeout rate of 28.0 percent and walk rate of 7.3 percent are well below what Trout posted in his age-20 season (21.8 and 10.5 percent) — but this week of dominance might suggest that those adjustments are already in progress.

Even if he’s not the next Trout — an impossible standard — is Acuna at least destined to become an annual MVP candidate like Trout? Sure, with his speed and defense added to his growing power, it’s possible. Nothing is guaranteed, of course. Consider what has happened to Cody Bellinger this season. His line from 2017 as a 21-year-old matches up with Acuna’s current line:

Bellinger, 2017: .267/.352/.581
Acuna, 2018: .288/.346/.576

Bellinger even had a stretch of eight home runs in eight games (Bellinger was the previous youngest player to hit eight home runs over eight games). Bellinger also showed the ability to hit the fastball and adjust to the off-speed stuff, which seemed to indicate a long future as one of the premier hitters in the game. Instead, he has hit .254/.337/.465, solid enough, but not MVP-type production.

Anyway, it has been an amazing stretch for the Braves’ outfielder. Let’s see what happens Wednesday. Nine in nine?

We don’t like each other: Benches cleared in the San Francisco Giants‘ 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Yasiel Puig in the middle of the action:

Puig and Giants catcher Nick Hundley were both ejected and will probably receive a one-game suspension for shoving each other, but the bigger picture is the Giants won the game on Alen Hanson‘s go-ahead single in the top of the ninth — the fourth straight game the Dodgers have lost on their opponents’ final at-bat. Courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau research: That’s the first time that has happened in Dodgers franchise history.

While the bullpen blues are of major concern, the offense has dried up of late. Since beating the Brewers 21-5 on Aug. 2, the Dodgers are 3-8 while hitting .219/.289/.364. Manny Machado has hit .258/.345/.392 since joining the Dodgers with only two home runs and six RBIs in 25 games. Matt Kemp has predictably regressed from his hot start and is hitting .155 with two home runs in 22 games since the All-Star break. The bullpen needs to fix the late-inning issue, but it has become an issue because the offense is no longer carrying the team.

The A’s are one game behind the Astros: Man, an Astros-Yankees wild-card game would be something, wouldn’t it? The A’s are now 50-0 when leading after seven innings, beating the Mariners 3-2. Here’s your nightly Matt Chapman highlight:

Jed Lowrie did double damage to the Mariners. He knocked out James Paxton in the first inning with a liner off Paxton’s left arm (X-rays were negative, but Paxton will miss at least one start). Lowrie later had a two-run home run off Felix Hernandez.

Meanwhile, Justin Verlander failed to pick up career win No. 200 as the Rockies won 5-1, scoring three runs in the late innings against the Houston bullpen. The Astros haven’t won a home game since July 14 as they’ve lost nine straight at Minute Maid. The lineup, still missing Jose Altuve, George Springer and Brian McCann, continues to struggle as the Astros have hit .219/.298/.377 in the second half while averaging 3.95 runs per game (compared to 5.05 in the first half).



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Brandon McCarthy of Atlanta Braves to retire at end of season

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Atlanta Braves pitcher Brandon McCarthy will retire at the end of this season, ending a 13-year career that has been plagued by injuries.

McCarthy, who has been out since June 24 with a knee injury, told MLB.com that he hopes to return to the Braves as a relief pitcher at some point this season.

“I’m done after this,” McCarthy told MLB.com. “This is it. The offseason is the rest of my life. If I was going to keep playing, a month and a half ago, I would have had the surgery that cleans the [knee] and I’d be back next year just a little bit after spring [training].”

McCarthy, 35, said he is making a mechanical adjustment in his delivery to decrease the stress on his knee. The right-hander is 6-3 with a 4.92 ERA in 15 starts this season with the Braves.

McCarthy has battled multiple injuries to his shoulder and elbow throughout his career. He also had a major scare in 2012 when he was struck in the head by a line drive, suffering a skull fracture and an epidural hemorrhage.

McCarthy is 69-75 with a 4.20 ERA in 255 career games over parts of 13 seasons with the White Sox, Rangers, Athletics, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Dodgers and Braves.

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Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, San Francisco Giants’ Nick Hundley ejected after scuffle

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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig took a swing at San Francisco Giants catcher Nick Hundley and both players were ejected during a benches-clearing scrap in the seventh inning Tuesday night.

Puig swatted his bat in frustration after fouling off a pitch from Tony Watson, and Hundley said something to the Dodgers slugger while still in his crouch. Puig turned around and walked toward Hundley, the catcher stood up, and they stood face to face and argued for a moment before Puig shoved Hundley twice.

That brought players out of the benches and bullpens. Puig and Hundley were momentarily separated, but Puig ducked around teammates, coaches and manager Dave Roberts before reaching back to hit Hundley. He smacked Hundley with an open hand across the front of his catcher’s mask.

The players were then separated again for good. After discussions with both managers, the umpires ejected both Puig and Hundley.

Puig was replaced at the plate by Austin Barnes, who inherited a 1-2 count and then struck out. Buster Posey, who had been playing first base, replaced Hundley behind the plate and Brandon Belt came off the bench to take over at first base. The Giants won the game 2-1.

It was the fourth career ejection for Puig, who had also got into a skirmish with Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner in 2014.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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