The defending Pacific Coast League champion Tacoma Rainiers open the 2011 season tonight at Raley Field in Sacramento.
The first pitch is at 7:20 pm. The broadcast will air on 850 AM and (fingers crossed) stream on www.tacomarainiers.com. I plan to start the pre-game show at 7:00.
Tacoma starts LHP Luke French (11-3, 2.94 last year). French just missed being named the 2010 PCL Pitcher of the Year – Oklahoma City’s Michael Kirkman edged him out in the voting.
Sacramento will start LHP Josh Outman, who did not pitch last season while recovering from “Tommy John” surgery on his left elbow. Pre-surgery, Outman always had plus stuff for a lefty – he pitched well against Tacoma a couple of times in 2008.
I’ll post the lineups and broadcast link in the afternoon when I get to the park.
Note: I will be doing a live bit on KJR 950 AM with Ian Furness at 1:30 and I’m sure we’ll preview the team a little bit.
Mondays With Bob: I’m very excited and honored to announce that Pacific Northwest broadcast legend Bob Robertson will be joining me on the air for all Monday home games this year.
Robertson has at least 25 years of PCL broadcasting experience in Seattle and Tacoma - he called Tacoma Giants games in the 1960s, for cripes sake.
Robertson is in the College Football Hall of Fame for his work with WSU, and he has something nobody from my alma mater has: a Rose Bowl ring.
I look forward to hearing stories from the PCL of the 1960s – 1980s. Bob will be joining me for the entire game, and in the middle innings he’ll slide into the play-by-play seat. It should be a real treat, especially for those of you who have been following Tacoma baseball for longer than I have.
Let’s hit the links:
- Finally, someone asked Rainiers manager Daren Brown the big question. Ryan Divish has an excellent story.
- Award-winning Larry Stone of the award-winning Seattle Times wrote a Rainiers preview.
- A Rainiers season preview from USS Mariner declares REPEAT!
- We have previews from the Sacramento perspective: a column on new Cats manager Darren Bush, in which we learn he is a commercial fisherman in the off-season; a River Cats photo gallery; the Sacramento team-at-a-glance; and new Raley Field food which I will not be eating.
- A flippant, fun, not serious Rainiers preview from yesterday’s Weekly Volcano.
- The Mariners are off today – their home opener is tomorrow, and you can still get tickets. The opening road trip was streaky: two wins to start, and four losses to finish. It sure appears as if Texas is the class of the division, but it’s a long season.
- Adam Moore left Wednesday’s game with a knee injury. If he has to go on the disabled list, the M’s will call up a Tacoma catcher. We’ll find out tomorrow.
- It sounds like David Aardsma is close to being activated – or maybe tossing a couple of rehab innings in minor league games.
- Buster Olney – one of my favorite MLB columnists – has a note on Michael Pineda at the beginning of his column today. It might even be before the subscriber cutoff!
- Lots of PCL stories today, including this excellent league-wide preview out of Las Vegas. This is a good read for a general overview, and a Top-5 PCL Prospects list.
- One of the top prospects in the PCL this year is Albuquerque infielder Dee Gordon – son of former pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon. Here is a feature.
- The dreaded rival Salt Lake Bees are starting 21-year-old prospect Tyler Chatwood in the opener today.
- Tucson’s opening day starter is Wade LeBlanc. The Tucson newspaper has a few funny LeBlanc anecdotes.
- The Tennessean has a feature on stalled Brewers prospect Mat Gamel. I predict a big bounce-back year for him.
- Fresno has some older pitchers, including Ryan Vogelsong who pitched at the so-awful-I-had-permanently-erased-it-from-my-memory Beiden Field in the early days of the Grizzlies.
- Colorado Springs opening day starter John Maine was not expecting the assignment.
- Brett Butler is back as skipper in Reno. Here’s a preview of Bugsy and the Aces.
- Baseball America has its national minor league position-by-position rankings (subscription required). Shocker: Tacoma has the #1 ranked second baseman.
- For Baseball Prospectus subscribers the esteemed Kevin Goldstein has a list of top minor league teams to follow nationwide.
- Cool minor league promotion alert: the Class-A Quad City River Bandits (Davenport, Iowa) have improved the traditional refrigerator magnet schedule giveaway: instead, they are giving away the actual refrigerator.
- Local guy Willie Bloomquist is hotter than a pistol.
OK, time to research some players, grab some lunch, and head out to Raley Field. I’ll get those lineups posted in the late afternoon.