You are Luis Jimenez.
You are a big baseball star in your home country of Venezuela, where you can’t even go shopping without being recognized by fans. Just two years ago, you were the MVP of your league, playing for your hometown team, Cardinales de Lara. The team uses your picture on billboard advertisements.
You are known for your long home runs. You once hit one entirely out of your home stadium in Venezuela, and it was captured forever in this video (stick with it to the end).
Baseball in the USA has not come as easily for you. It took you 12 years and eight organizations just to get a fair chance to play at Triple-A. An attempt to play in Japan didn’t go well.
But now, things are getting good. You are playing regularly in Tacoma, and you are getting the hang of Triple-A pitching. You are batting clean-up, you are putting together good plate appearances in most at-bats, and you are launching long home runs, just like back home in Venezuela.
But still they yell at you.
Not at “home” in Tacoma, where the fans treat you with respect. But on the road in the PCL, you are a target for abuse.
So what if you don’t have the traditional body of an athlete. You’re a big guy, and you might be carrying a few extra pounds, but look at those home runs.
That one fan in Reno screamed at you about your weight. He was so loud, everyone in the ballpark heard it.
There was only one thing to do. You doubled off the center field fence. When he yelled at you again your next time up, you crushed a three-run homer onto the berm in right field.
That shut him up.
They were on you again in Omaha – some fans right behind the dugout, your dugout, making fun of you because of your weight.
So, you do it again: a line shot over the right field fence, a laser-beam of a homer that seemed to leave the ballpark in less than a second.
As you toss your bat and start jogging around the bases, you point at the fans behind the dugout. Not a threatening point, not at all – just a little point, a gesture that seems to say “tisk, tisk, tisk, you should not have angered me.”
When you round the bases and come back towards the dugout, you see that you have won them over – the entire section of Omaha fans is bowing down to you, cheering and laughing. Not laughing at you – laughing at themselves, and laughing with you.
That was the scene in Omaha on Sunday afternoon, when Jimenez scorched his ninth homer of the season to give Tacoma a 3-0 lead in the second game of the doubleheader.
Jimenez is now batting .312 with nine home runs and 32 RBI. He has walked more than he has struck out – 25 walks, and 23 K’s. He has a .416 on-base percentage, and he is slugging .582 for a .997 OPS.
He is still a long shot to ever reach the Major Leagues – he’s a 30-year-old Triple-A designated hitter, and these guys rarely get called up. But it does happen sometimes - just ask Bucky Jacobsen.
That’s just fine with us in Tacoma – we’ll take him. He’s become one of the most dangerous hitters in the PCL.
Tacoma split the doubleheader in Omaha on Sunday and got out of there with a split of the four-game series.
Anthony Vasquez tossed his first career complete game shutout in game two, a 3-hitter. You can read about it in the News Tribune game story – first link below, which also has a recap of the game one loss.
We are in Des Moines, Iowa today to start a four-game series with the Iowa Cubs. Iowa just lost three out of four to Salt Lake, dropping the final three after winning the opener.
Iowa has the PCL’s top home run hitter in Anthony Rizzo, who has 14. He has done most of his damage in away games – he’s hit just four homers at Iowa’s Principal Park.
Rizzo is a young slugger, but his path to Chicago is blocked by Bryan LaHair, who is still hitting well for the Cubs.
Tonight’s series opener is at 4:35 (Pacific), and the broadcast is on 850 AM and streaming right here. Tacoma starts RHP Forrest Snow (0-4, 8.17) against Iowa RHP Jay Jackson (2-3, 6.09).
- Leading off, it’s the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune, focusing on the Anthony Vasquez shutout.
- We have found the way to fix the Mariners: more interleague games, please!
- All eyes will be on Seattle tonight, when Felix Hernandez faces the Rangers and Yu Darvish. John McGrath has the preview column. I would happily pay for a ticket to see this one, and I get into games for free (sorry about the brag). I’d really like to see Felix get a win tonight.
- Justin Smoak is starting to heat up.
- The Mariners Double-A affiliate in Jackson, Tennessee had its game postponed last night due to a storm that blew down the outfield fence.
- For (a lot) more on the Mariners minor league teams, check out USS Mariner’s weekly Minor League Wrap.
- Great quote from a local high school coach about scouts, who look like they are “watching an orangutan” at the zoo.
- Former Major Leaguer Dmitri Young sold his collection of high-end baseball cards.
- In the PCL, Salt Lake beat Iowa yesterday, 5-1. The Iowa Cubs are expecting a couple of rehabilitating major leaguers this week.
- New Orleans beat first place Colorado Springs yesterday – Tacoma is six games out of first.
- Texas Rangers top pitching prospect Martin Perez keeps getting lit up in the PCL.
- Brandon Moss homered the Sacramento River Cats to victory in Albuquerque.
- Las Vegas topped Memphis, 5-2, behind the pitching of Andrew Carpenter.
- A.J. Pollock returned to Reno and had three hits, but the Aces lost a wild one to Oklahoma City.
Don’t forget, weird baseball times this week: 4:35 tonight, and then three straight 10:05 AM games Tuesday through Thursday.