Who’s Catching?

It was about 11:00 at night in the cramped visiting coaches locker room at Cashman Field in Las Vegas.

The team was all dressed and gone, and usually we are right on their heels, but this time was different.

Manager Daren Brown, pitching coach Dwight Bernard, trainers Tom Newberg and Jeremy Clipperton, and I just sat there, with surprised expressions on our faces: both Tacoma Rainiers catchers had just been called up to the major leagues, because both Seattle Mariners catchers had been injured.

None of us had ever seen this happen before – and the five of us combined for over 100 years of professional baseball experience, mostly at the AAA and MLB levels.

Josh Bard and Jose Yepez were promoted to Seattle, leaving the Rainiers without any catchers.

Thank goodness the team had Wednesday off. Today, we have a ton of Tacoma roster moves:

  • Catchers Josh Bard and Jose Yepez – called up to Seattle on Wednesday.
  • Catcher Ralph Henriquez – promoted from Class-AA Jackson.
  • Catcher Trevor Coleman – promoted from Class-A High Desert
  • Pitcher Denny Bautista – released so he could sign with a team in Korea.
  • Pitcher Chaz Roe – designated for assignment; unavailable for a few days while we see if he clears waivers.
  • Utility Leury Bonilla – sent to Jackson.
  • Pitcher Jarret Grube – promoted to Tacoma from Class-AA Jackson

Tacoma has 22 active players for tonight’s game, with 11 pitchers and 11 position players.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, with the Rainiers at home against the Fresno Grizzlies. Tacoma is scheduled to start LHP Nate Robertson (2-2, 5.26) against Fresno LHP Dan Runzler (0-1, 4.50). You can hear the broadcast on 850 AM and streaming online right here

The Rainiers are home through the weekend, with fireworks after the games on Friday and Sunday. Sunday’s fireworks show is the massive one – the annual July 3rd Fireworks Extravaganza, and tickets are still available.

Congratulations to Tacoma Rainiers reliever Josh Lueke, who will represent the team in the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 13 in Salt Lake City. Lueke is fully recovered from his rough start in the major leagues and he appears to be ready again should the Mariners make the call.

Seeing how the Rainiers all-star gets promoted to Seattle the day after the all-star break every year, thus meaning that he doesn’t get to play in the all-star game itself, I suggest that Brown use Lueke as often as possible in the next ten days.

Here is the release on the entire PCL All-Star team.

I was on the early flight to Seattle (with all of the Rainiers catchers) on Wednesday, and I made my Mariners Radio debut that afternoon.

I thought the broadcast went well. I wasn’t nervous, and I only called the Mariners the Rainiers once (whoops!). 

I was comfortable because of how warm and welcoming Rick Rizzs and producer Kevin Cremin are. They made everything go very smoothly, and they eased me in.

Rick is such an excellent, professional announcer and he’s a complete natural for the lead position in the booth. In addition to easing me (a rookie) into the broadcast, he’s working with a revolving door of announcers this year, so his rhythm and flow are constantly changing.

One thing that fans don’t see is that between innings, Rick is constantly greeting sponsors and visitors during the commercial breaks. His enthusiasm is relentless and he truly has fun in the booth.

On top of that, Rick is supremely prepared. He has several pages of hand-written notes for each broadcast, so he stays up all night (or wakes up at dawn – I don’t know) and preps for his game.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank all of you who left me notes of encouragement on this blog and on twitter. It’s great to hear some positive feedback – thanks!


See you at Cheney this weekend!

2 Responses to Who’s Catching?

  1. ivan says:

    Hi Mike:

    I listened to the game on radio just to hear you. You are major league in my book.

    I appreciate that Lueke made the PCL All-Star team, but I’d like to know what his velocity is these days. He hit 97 on the gun late last season in Tacoma and I thought the M’s had another J.J. Putz on their hands. Then this spring he not only lost 5-6 MPH on his fastball, all of a sudden he couldn’t throw the split for strikes anymore. Has he got his velocity and command back? Thanks.

  2. Duncan says:


    I listened to the game on Wednesday at work and they need to call you up already! Tacoma is lucky to have you. Love the blog.


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