Van Hekken to be inducted into Whitecaps Hall of Fame

LHP Andy Van Hekken will be inducted into the Whitecaps Hall of Fame this month.

LHP Andy Van Hekken will be inducted into the Whitecaps Hall of Fame this month. (Photo courtesy of the Whitecaps)

Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Andy Van Hekken will be inducted into the West Michigan Whitecaps Hall of Fame on January 23 during the Whitecaps Winter Baseball Banquet.

Van Hekken pitched in only five games in the majors (all starts for the Tigers in September 2002), but he spent 14 years in the minors. His best seasons were 2000 and 2001. He pitched for the Whitecaps in 2000, compiling an impressive 16-6 record with a 2.45 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 158 IP. He pitched three complete games that season, including a shutout, and also notched a save.

The guest speaker at the event will be Tigers President, CEO and General Manager Dave Dombrowski. Other notables scheduled to attend include first-year Whitecaps manager Larry Parrish, Tigers LHP Drew Smyly and Tigers outfielders Andy Dirks and Quintin Berry. Dirks is the only one of them who played in the Midwest League; he went 1-for-10 with 2 RBI in three games with the 2008 Whitecaps.

Blue Jays sign Blanco

The Toronto Blue Jays signed veteran catcher Henry Blanco to a non-guaranteed, $750,000 major-league contract. He batted .188 with 1 HR and 7 RBI in 21 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks last year. More from MLB.com:

His year ended in early August due to a torn ligament in his left thumb, and the D-backs declined his option following the season.

The 41-year-old veteran has appeared in 921 games over 15 big-league seasons with the Dodgers, Rockies, Brewers, Braves, Twins, Cubs, Padres, Mets and Arizona, compiling a lifetime .227 batting average.

Blanco also has some history with the Blue Jays’ new ace, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, when both were with the Mets in 2010. Pitching to Blanco, Dickey compiled a 2.52 ERA over 50 innings in seven games.

To make room on Toronto’s 40-man roster, left-hander Tommy Hottovy was designated for assignment.

Blanco played eight games in the Midwest League while rehabbing for the Cubs in 2007. He hit .316 (6-for-19) with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 3 BB while playing with the Peoria Chiefs.

Skipper in Cleveland

I don’t know why he was there, but Lake County Captains mascot Skipper was in Cleveland today. Apparently he kept busy being an art-loving mascot-about-town, as evidenced by photos tweeted by the Captains. Here’s one of Skipper with the Free Stamp sculpture in Willard Park …

Skipper stands next to the Free Stamp sculpture in downtown Cleveland.

Skipper stands next to the Free Stamp sculpture in downtown Cleveland.

… and here’s one of Skipper posing like the Abraham Lincoln statue above him:

Skipper strikes a presidential pose beneath an Abraham Lincoln statue in Cleveland.

Skipper strikes a presidential pose beneath an Abraham Lincoln statue in Cleveland.

Obviously Skipper is a fan of art and sculptures!

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