Rainiers Release Tentative Roster

April 1, 2014

We have a roster, but it is being labeled “tentative” because changes are still possible prior to opening day on Thursday.

For example, there were several injuries around the majors last night, and teams are already recalling players from Triple-A as reinforcements. We almost had that happen in the Mariners game last night – Charlie Furbush was smoked in the knee by a line drive, but luckily it sounds like he’s going to be OK.

Here are the players who flew into Tacoma and were issued uniforms today:

PITCHERS

  • Bawcom, Logan
  • Beavan, Blake
  • Fernandez, Anthony
  • Gillheeney, James
  • Hill, Nick
  • Kensing, Logan
  • Leone, Dominic
  • Luetge, Lucas
  • Maurer, Brandon
  • Miner, Zach
  • Ramirez, Ramon
  • Ruffin, Chance
  • Smith, Carson

At this time I do not have a starting rotation – manager Roy Howell said he should have one ready to announce on Wednesday.

CATCHERS

  • Quintero, Humberto
  • Sucre, Jesus

I heard today from a reliable source that Brandon Bantz was released at the end of spring training. An unfortunate situation for a likable guy, but I’m sure he’ll hook on with another team soon.

INFIELDERS

  • Choi, Ji-Man
  • Franklin, Nick
  • Kelly, Ty
  • Montero, Jesus
  • Noriega, Gabriel
  • Taylor, Chris
  • Tenbrink, Nate

That’s a lot of middle infielders. Taylor was the Mariners Minor League Player of the Year last year, and he’s going to play every day. Obviously, Franklin is playing every day – we’ll see if he gets any reps in the outfield. Kelly and Tenbrink were two of Tacoma’s best hitters last year. It could be tough for Howell to keep everybody happy with enough playing time.

OUTFIELDERS

  • Chavez, Endy
  • Gillespie, Cole
  • Jones, James

Right now the fourth outfielder appears to be Tenbrink, Kelly, or possibly Franklin.

DISABLED LIST

  • Bonilla, Leury
  • Carraway, Andrew
  • Rogers, Mark

Carraway and Rogers are staying in extended spring training as each had injuries in Arizona (Carraway apparently very recently since he was fine when I talked to him last week). I heard Matt Palmer is still in extended, too.

Keep in mind there are three players currently on waivers, and if they don’t get claimed by other teams they are Triple-A players who would probably be assigned to Tacoma. Those three are Carlos Triunfel, Xavier Avery, and Bobby LaFromboise.

Here is the roster press release, and a one-page roster PDF with lots of player data is right here.


Opening Day Warm-Up

March 31, 2014

Happy Major League Opening Day – a holiday to many, but for us PCL folks it’s just a warm up. The Rainiers season starts on Thursday.

There is a tremendous slate of televised games today, and many are shown nationally on ESPN or ESPN2. The action starts at 10:05 AM, and the final game is the Mariners season opener in Anaheim at 7:05.

Some television providers are doing a free preview of the MLB package for the first week of the season, so check and see if you are getting it.

Word came down on Saturday that the Mariners released Rainiers first baseman Rich Poythress.

I had high hopes for Poythress to be a factor in the PCL this year (and he still might, but with some other team). However, with first basemen Jesus Montero and Ji-Man Choi both on the Mariners 40-man roster, and thus with playing time priority over Poythress, I’m sure the Mariners simply figured he wasn’t going to play much this year.

These types of situations often work out better for the player, and hopefully that will be the case with Poythress. Ideally, he’ll get picked up by another team that has an opening for a Triple-A first baseman, and he’ll get a chance to play regularly.

Another player the Mariners let go was former Rainiers pitcher Anthony Vasquez. Vasquez had a nice run with Tacoma in 2011 and reached the major leagues before he was waylaid by injuries: shoulder problems and of all things, brain surgery. Vasquez was pitching this spring, so hopefully he’ll get picked up by another team.

I’m not sure if/when we will have a blog update on Tuesday – I need to spend some time getting the broadcast booth ready at Cheney, that’s the priority. However, there is a chance the Rainiers roster will be announced tomorrow afternoon. When it is announced, I’ll post it as quickly as possible (if we don’t get it tomorrow, we’ll certainly have the roster on Wednesday).

In the meantime, we have One Million links:

That’s it – let’s watch some baseball!


Suspension Bails Out Rainiers (For Now)

April 13, 2013

Tacoma and Salt Lake tried to get an official game in amid miserable conditions on Friday night, but they couldn’t make it through five innings before the umpires halted the proceedings. That result was just fine with the Rainiers, who were four outs away from suffering a 5-0 rain-shortened loss at the time of the suspension.

Instead, the two teams will resume the game today, picking up play in the top of the fifth inning with Sale Lake leading, 5-0. That game will be played through a full nine innings, and then a second game (the regularly scheduled game) will be played. The second game will be shortened to seven innings, per Minor League Baseball rules.

Rainiers lefty James Paxton was real strong for four innings, but he walked the bases loaded before allowing three straight two-out hits in the fifth, leading to five runs. Sloppy infield conditions did not help the Rainiers fielders during Salt Lake’s rally.

The Rainiers are into the bullpen in the suspended game – Lucas Luetge relieved Paxton right before the game was called.

Tacoma could be in a spot of trouble for game two. The Rainiers were hoping that pitcher D.J. Mitchell would clear waivers and be available to start today. Mitchell – who was designated for assignment by the Mariners on Thursday – did, in fact, clear waivers. However, he executed his right to become a free agent, and suddenly we don’t have him anymore.

I anticipate that the Mariners to fly in a pitcher from somewhere else in the organization in time for the games tonight. The Tacoma staff is really short right now.

Big shout-out to the loyal Rainiers fans who withstood the cold and rain last night – you guys were great. Thanks for coming out!

Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we’ll have baseball tonight. It all starts at 5:05, and you can hear the action on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

Links:

Hopefully we can play ball tonight!


Opening Day Is Here

April 4, 2013

The Tacoma Rainiers open the 2013 season today here in Fresno. The game is at 7:15 PM, and we will carry it live with the broadcast on South Sound Sports 850 AM, and the broadcast will stream live on the internet via this link. Tacoma starts LHP Danny Hultzen against Fresno RHP Yusmeiro Petit.

The Fresno telecast will be streaming live if you subscribe to MiLB TV – a worthy investment for out-of-Tacoma fans and player’s families, because we’ll have every Rainiers home game on there. The quality of the MiLB TV broadcast varies from stadium-to-stadium, but our 72 home games should be pretty good. The subscription information is right here.

As for radio, we’ll have every single game live on 850 AM. The broadcast takes off 15 minutes early for the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show, which will feature an interview (almost) every day.

This year we’ll hear from manager Daren Brown prior the first game of each series, and also every Sunday. For the rest of the games I’ll interview Rainiers players and coaches, and other interesting people from around the PCL.

The Miller Lite Post-Game Show airs following the final out. We’ll have a recap of the game, some highlights, and scoreboards for the majors and PCL.

This will be my 15th Pacific Coast League opening day. In a related story, I am getting old.

I remember my first one in 1999 pretty clearly: it was in Albuquerque, at the old ballpark (the ridiculously-but-accurately named Sports Stadium). Ken Cloude was the Rainiers opening day starter, and he tossed six one-hit innings. The Rainiers went on to sweep the Dukes in a four-game series, and then came home to face Salt Lake. The Buzz beat the Rainiers in the home opener on a David Ortiz homer that landed on the Foss hill.

Last year, the Rainiers opened at home against the Salt Lake Bees. Mike Trout was the first batter of the season, and he singled up the middle to start what became a pretty interesting campaign for him.

What does the 2013 PCL season have in store for us? It all starts tonight.

Links:

  • The News Tribune ran a Rainiers opening day preview today – check it out.
  • Edgar Martinez has made the Hall of Fame. The Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.
  • After being released by the Mets in spring training, long-time Rainiers outfielder Mike Wilson has signed with the independent Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League. Hit up a storm and get picked up quickly, Mike!
  • Geoff Baker was kind enough to give us all of the Mariners minor league rosters in one easy-to-find place.
  • The prolific Conor Glassey of Baseball America gives us a brief analysis of the Mariners minor league assignments.
  • For a much longer look at the Mariners minor league teams, marc w at USS Mariner delivers the goods.
  • The Mariners aren’t going 162-0 this year. Maybe next year?
  • Brandon Maurer – the starting pitching prospect who skipped Triple-A like Gil Meche back in the day – makes his MLB debut in an afternoon game today.
  • In the PCL, the St. Louis Cardinals are considering purchasing the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.
  • Las Vegas has two of the top prospects in all of minor league baseball: pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d’Arnaud.
  • The Tommy Layne story is remarkable: the Tucson left-hander got roughed up all of the time as a starting pitcher, moved to the bullpen and became a very tough pitcher.
  • The “salty” New Orleans Zephyrs have 16 players with major league experience.
  • Round Rock features top prospects Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt. Of note in this preview story: hard-throwing reliever Josh Lindblom is down in Triple-A learning to be a starter.
  • Oklahoma City is going with the eight-man tandem starting rotation, which is something the whole Astros organization is doing. Teams have tried this in the lower minors and they usually stop and go back to a five-man rotation after a year or two. It’s definitely unusual to see at Triple-A, and it could put them in a bind when they need to call up a starter.
  • Slugger Manny Ramirez is now playing in Taiwan, and he hit his first home run yesterday. Watch the video because the play-by-play call of the homer is truly wonderful. This is the best thing on the internet today (including the live stream of the Rainiers game – I’ve got nothing on these guys). I love it when the announcer sneaks in a “see you later” in English on the replay.

As I press “publish,” it is raining here in Fresno. Hopefully it will clear up and we won’t have any issues – and opening day rainout must be avoided at all costs!


Bats, Fans Chilly At Opener

April 6, 2012

The Rainiers lost the season opener to the Salt Lake Bees last night, 3-2.

Cold temperatures prevailed – when I drove home an hour after the game, my car said it was 38 degrees outside. It was even cold in my booth, and I have walls on three sides and a heater.

With that, I’d like to salute the 5,292 of you who attended. That was a pretty robust crowd, considering the conditions.

It’s going to be chilly again tonight, but it’s supposed to warm up for the weekend and even reach the mid-60s for our day game on Sunday. Springtime!

Hopefully the Rainiers bats will get used to the temperature tonight. Tacoma was limited to two runs on six hits last night – mostly because of the pitching of Salt Lake’s Garrett Richards, who was very impressive in his Triple-A debut. The Angels pitching prospect worked in the mid-90s with his fastball.

The Rainiers scored their first run of the season when Richards hung a slider to Mike Wilson – which is always a bad, bad idea. Wilson deposited it over the left field fence for a homer in the fifth inning.

Tacoma scored again in the seventh, when Carlos Peguero launched a long triple to deep center, and scored on a ground out by Luis Jimenez. Peguero was 2-for-4 in the game, and he made contact in all four at-bats.

Tacoma starter Matt Fox was lifted after three innings and 77 pitches, allowing two runs (one earned). He wasn’t hit very hard and he certainly wasn’t wild – the Rainiers had some defensive problems in the infield that led to Fox’s early exit.

A few other positives from the game: Cesar Jimenez and Sean Henn pitched scoreless relief; Trayvon Robinson threw out a runner at the plate from center, and catcher Adam Moore threw out two baserunners including the speedy Mike Trout when he was trying to steal second.

Trout, by the way, had three hits and certainly looked the part of the future star.

Game two is tonight at 7:05, and RHP Jeff Marquez starts for Tacoma against Salt Lake RHP Matt Shoemaker. We’ll have the broadcast on 850 AM and streaming online free right here, and those of you who subscribe to MiLB.TV can watch it online (I believe all Tacoma home games and most of the road games will be available through this service, so if you are an out-of-area fan you might want to sign up).

One note on the MiLB.TV service: the audio is the home team radio feed, which means that for Rainiers home games you will hear my inane chatter, and for the Rainiers away games you will hear the refined, professional broadcasters of the opposing team.

I enjoyed the ceremonial first pitch, thrown out by my broadcast partner Bob Robertson.

Robertson won the Keith Jackson Award for broadcasting excellence in the state of Washington, and of course he’s broadcast PCL baseball and other sports in Tacoma for decades. Let’s not forget that he’s in the College Football Hall Of Fame for his 48 years of work as the voice of Washington State football.

Bob told me he did not practice his pitch – he went out there cold. He tossed a one-hop strike to Washington Husky Forrest Snow.

Bob will be joining me on the air for all Monday home games this year, and he’ll do play-by-play during the middle innings.

Links:

  • We’ll lead off with Doug Pacey’s Rainiers game story for The News Tribune. Doug doesn’t write the headlines so don’t blame him for that dumb one.
  • John McGrath’s column on the Rainiers opener includes a great tidbit on Matt Fox’s Major League debut two years ago.
  • The Mariners have Opening Day #2 tonight in Oakland, and Jason Vargas makes the start against Brandon McCarthy. Vargas is looking for more consistency this year.
  • When Alex Liddi made the Mariners roster, he called his parents in Italy – at 3:00 AM, Italy time.
  • Jason Churchill has an interesting post today: the Mariners draft #3 overall, and Stanford ace Mark Appel is considered a top draft talent. Churchill wants the Mariners to just say no to Appel, who pitched at Washington last night. Pat Gillick was at the game, too, and the post ends with a nice anecdote about him.
  • USS Mariner has a post on why we watch minor league games and box scores, with three good photos from last night’s Rainiers game. The comments feature some spirited discussion from fans who attended the game.
  • Due to an injury to reliever Kyle Farnsworth, the Tampa Bay Rays called up former Rainiers pitcher Josh Lueke, who will be with them in their season opener today.
  • Baseball America posted the attendance numbers for every minor league team that opened last night.

In the PCL:

  • Las Vegas has always been a tough place to pitch – and nothing changed on opening day, as former Mariners left-hander Aaron Laffey learned in an 11-6 drubbing at the hands of visiting Sacramento. Grant Green opened the season with a leadoff homer, Michael Taylor and Chris Carter each had three hits, and Sacramento rolled to victory. Reigning PCL batting champion (and Cal Bear) David Cooper had three hits for Vegas.
  • San Francisco Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong had a successful rehabilitation appearance, tossing four scoreless innings in Fresno’s 3-0 win at Tucson. Some Tucson Padres shared their favorite opening day memories.
  • A.J. Pollock is the new leadoff man for Reno, and he reached base four times in the Aces 5-2 win over Colorado Springs in the home opener. He was probably cold, though – it snowed.
  • Tony Campana had an eventful day – he was sent down by the Chicago Cubs, raced to Des Moines, and led the Iowa Cubs to a 5-3 win over visiting Round Rock.
  • Omaha opened Werner Park with an 8-4 win over Albuquerque. Kevin Kouzmanoff is with Omaha this year – he drove in three runs.
  • Ben Lasiter hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, propelling New Orleans to a 6-2 win over Nashville.
  • Oklahoma City drew over 9,000 fans to Bricktown Ballpark, but the RedHawks lost to Memphis, 4-3, as Redbirds closer Eduardo Sanchez got out of a big jam in the ninth.
  • In the International League, former Rainiers infielder Matt Mangini had two hits and an RBI for the Durham Bulls.

Today’s goal: let’s get the Rainiers back to the .500 mark.


Opening Day & Broadcast Plans

April 5, 2012

It’s finally here – the 2012 Tacoma Rainiers season opener.

The Rainiers host the Salt Lake Bees tonight at Cheney Stadium. First pitch is set for 7:20 – Tacoma starts RHP Matt Fox against Salt Lake RHP Garrett Richards.

If you are coming to the game, please try to get in a bit early – the pre-game festivities will begin at 6:50, when select fans parachute into the stadium. There will be tickets available at the gate.

I cannot advise you strongly enough to dress warmly. I went to the Rainiers workout last night and it was *chilly*.

The radio broadcast will be airing on South Sound Sports 850 AM – which will once again be radio home to all 144 games of Rainiers baseball, home and away, plus the Triple-A All-Star Game and, if we should be so fortunate, the playoffs. Additionally – technology willing (fingers and toes crossed) – the broadcast is supposed to be streaming online right here.

Typically the Muckleshoot Casino Pre-Game Show begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch. Since it’s Opening Day, I’m doing 20 minutes today. We’ll start at 7:00 sharp. 

Pre-game interviews will be different this year. Last year, I interviewed manager Daren Brown before each game. This was an experiment – radio guys interview the manager every day in the Major Leagues, and I wanted to try it for a season. I thought it had some benefits, and I learned a few things – but it came at the expense of player interviews, as I only did one player interview a week (Sundays). I didn’t get to everybody on our team, and I certainly didn’t get to interview any of the other interesting people around the league.

So this year we’re doing something different: I’m going to interview the manager before the first game of each series, and on Sundays. Before all other games I’ll interview our players or opposing players or managers or executives from around the league.

(Note: that doesn’t apply today. I always interview the Rainiers GM before the home opener, so today we’ll talk to Aaron Artman about what fans can look forward to at Cheney Stadium this season).

A few notes from the Rainiers workout last night:

  • Catcher Adam Moore was there, and he’s going to play tonight. Moore is currently on the Mariners disabled list, and he will technically be on a rehabilitation assignment with Tacoma. Moore told me his wrist feels great, he’s ready to go, and he is scheduled to catch seven innings tonight.
  • Manager Daren Brown already had his lineup decided, but he did not want to share it with us the day before. He said he wants to communicate with the players who are not playing before telling the media or anyone else.
  • Opening day starter Matt Fox said that his cut fastball is his best pitch.
  • Relief ace Chance Ruffin talked a bit about growing up in a Major League clubhouse – his father Bruce Ruffin was a longtime MLB pitcher for the Phillies and Rockies. He said his biggest memory as a kid in the clubhouse was Rockies second baseman Eric Young picking him up and throwing him into the couch – over and over and over again.
  • The big winners from Alex Liddi making the Mariners roster are Johan Limonta and Luis Jimenez. These guys are going to get the at-bats as long as Liddi is in Seattle.
  • The mysterious marc w from USS Mariner was in attendance, straight from his real job – and I saw him without a hat on for the first time ever. Guess what? Not bald. I still have never seen Jason Churchill without some sort of head cover. My guess: bald. 

Let’s hit the links:

  • The News Tribune has two stories in advance of the Rainiers opener today: Larry LaRue has a profile of shortstop Carlos Triunfel, in which he re-lives the injury that changed his career. John McGrath whipped up a column on the improbable rise of pitcher Forrest Snow.
  • Larry Stone has an article on the Mariners setting their second opening day roster.
  • The second page of this PDF document has the opening day rosters for all four Mariners full-season minor league affiliates. Greg Johns has a review of the assignments. Baseball America has a quick-take on the organization.
  • Baseball America looked at all 120 minor league opening day rosters, and they picked out the one with the most talent on it. Which one was that? The Mariners Double-A Jackson Generals. This bodes well for us. Three teams from the PCL made the Top-10 (Sacramento, Tucson, and Memphis).
  • USS Mariner is posting Mariners minor league previews today – as of right now they have three of the four teams posted; I’m assuming Tacoma will come later today.
  • Know your enemy: the Salt Lake City newspapers are all about Mike Trout, who along with Bryce Harper (AAA-Syracuse) is considered one of the top two prospects in minor league baseball. Features from the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.
  • They’re excited in Las Vegas, where the team is going to be very strong up the middle. Centerfielder Anthony Gose is an electrifying player. The 51s are – once again – for sale << entertaining column alert!
  • Sacramento has talented pitchers that are new to the A’s organization. Here are the River Cats at a glance.
  • The San Francisco Giants decided to keep Brandon Belt and Hector Sanchez, who figured to be Fresno’s top two players.
  • All of the progress with the Miami Marlins is having a positive effect on Triple-A New Orleans.
  • Memphis has a new manager in Ronald “Pop” Warner. He was featured today in the Commercial-Appeal.
  • One thing the Dodgers players assigned to Triple-A Albuquerque are not thinking about is new Dodgers owner Magic Johnson.

Opening Day – I love it. Can’t wait to get to the ballpark!


Opening Day Roster Set

April 4, 2012

The Mariners officially released 24 names for the Rainiers opening day roster – one man short of the limit.

Here is the Rainiers press release, and here is the detailed roster.


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