Field Photos (3/31)

These pictures were taken a little after 6:00pm on 3/31. These pictures could have been taken any time between 10:00am and 10:00pm and the result would have been the same.

Today was an all-day cold, dark, wind, and rain. But, at least it never snowed. See! I'm Mr. Brightside!

Pictures please...

Boy. Those really did not turn out....Let me try something....
That's not right....

No. Not quite...


A little better.

Either this rain has to stop or I need to get better at photoshop.

This is...different

Different is a word you could use.

Hawks prez inks one-day deal
The South Bend Silver Hawks, in conjunction with the Arizona Diamondbacks, announced Monday that Joe Kernan, Silver Hawks President, has been signed to a one-day contract with the Diamondbacks.

Kernan has been assigned to the Silver Hawks and will make his professional baseball debut in the Silver vs. Gold exhibition game against the University of Notre Dame on Wednesday, April 2.

Kernan, a catcher for the University of Notre Dame baseball team in his college days, is excited to now face his alma mater as a Silver Hawks team member. Kernan stated, "It's about time! I've been waiting 40 years for the call and am delighted to be joining the Diamondbacks, an organization that has always had an eye for talent."

Oh, and the Silver Hawks roster is out, too. It looks like there is a release, but there is no link to it. Entire Hawks roster.

Other teams' rosters

Some of the other Midwest League rosters have been trickling in:

Like Burlington:
The roster is highlighted by shortstop Mike Moustakas, who was taken second overall by the Royals in the 2007 amateur entry draft. The roster also includes three players who spent time with the Bees during the 2007 season.
Entire roster of the Bees.

Like Cedar Rapids:
The 2008 Cedar Rapids Kernels have broken Spring Training camp and are on their way to Cedar Rapids! The 25-player roster includes two of the LA Angels Top 10 Prospects, as ranked by Baseball America, in RHP Jordan Walden (#3) and C Anel De Los Santos (#10).

The roster includes three members of the 2007 MWL playoff team as C Cody Collet, RHP Sammy Leon, and OF Tyler Johnson return to Cedar Rapids.

Entire roster of the Kernels.

Like Dayton:

Shortstop Todd Frazier and third baseman Brandon Waring headline the roster. Frazier, selected in the first round of the 2007 draft by the Cincinnati Reds, was chosen as the top prospect in the Pioneer League with Billings last summer after signing with the Reds. He hit 22 home runs last spring at Rutgers University to rank fourth in the country.

Waring hit 27 home runs at Wofford College to rank second among all NCAA Division I players. After signing with the Reds, he hit another 20 homers at Billings to lead the Pioneer League and all short-season professional leagues.
Like Fort Wayne:
Seven players who appeared with Fort Wayne last season will open the year with the Wizards and 16 players who were drafted by the Padres organization last summer will be a part of the club.

The outfield is led by Luis Durango, who won the Arizona League batting title in 2006 and the Northwest League batting title last season. Durango was also named the 2007 Topps Northwest League Player of the Year, hitting .367 with a league-best 110 hits and eight triples.

Also leading the outfield will be Brad Chalk, a second round pick from Clemson. He split the 2007 season between Peoria and Eugene, hitting a combined .276 in 34 games.
Entire roster of the Wizards.

Like Great Lakes:
Pitchers Steven Johnson, Thomas Melgarejo, Miguel Ramirez, Miguel Sanfler and Kyle Smit; catcher Kenley Jansen; infielders Brian Mathews and Preston Mattingly; and outfielder Scott Van Slyke all played for the Loons during the 2007 inaugural season.

The six players on the Loons’ roster ranked in Baseball America’s Top 30 prospect list in the Dodgers’ organization are: third baseman Pedro Baez (10), pitcher Bryan Morris (12), outfielder Andrew Lambo (14), pitcher Justin Miller (22), second baseman Mattingly (28) and pitcher Geison Aguasviva (30).
Entire roster of the Loooooooooons (as a PDF).

Evening, all

Judging by the traffic today, a lot of people are popping in here to see about the roster for the Timber Rattlers.

I've got some bad news.

I don't have it to release. The team isn't even into Appleton yet. They apparently left for the airport in Phoenix very, very early this morning and have been stuck in Chicago for quite some time.

We kind of have to wait for a go-ahead to send out the final opening day roster.

Sorry to keep you hanging on out there, but check back tomorrow sometime. We should have something at that time.

How some ex-Rattlers did

In the game at Dodger Stadium, David Ortiz ('96) was 0-for-3 in an 8-0 Boston loss.

Justin Leone ('00) went 1-for-2 for the San Francisco Giants in a 7-2 loss to Oakland.

Lehigh Valley drew 10,188 to Coca-Cola Stadium for an exhibition against the Philadelphia Phillies and a couple of ex-Rattlers played for the new Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies. Chris Snelling ('00) was 2-for-3 with a walk for the Iron Pigs. TJ Bohn ('03) was 1-for-3 with a walk. Greg Dobbs ('02) was 0-for-2 for the Phillies. Phillies won 5-3 and Geoff Jenkins hit a home run. Sounds like a good day for the new stadium. No, make that a great day.
Ron Chiavacci peered in from the mound as Jimmy Rollins dug into the first-base side of the batter's box. A few seconds later, Chiavacci slipped a fastball past the reigning National League MVP for a called strike.

At 2:14 p.m., under sunny but crisp skies, the moment that many believed would never come finally came.

Allentown and the Lehigh Valley were back in minor league baseball.

Coca-Cola Park opened in grand style Sunday afternoon when a sellout crowd of 10,188 jammed every corner of the new park to watch the Phillies beat the IronPigs, 5-3, in an exhibition game.

''I think some guys don't realize how big a thing this was around here,'' Chiavacci, the IronPigs' starter, said of the return of affiliated baseball to the Lehigh Valley for the first time in nearly five decades. ''I live in Scranton, so I know how big baseball is around here.''
Oh, and speaking of Snelling
The last 48 hours have been tough on both Chris Snelling and Mike Spidale.

Until Friday Snelling had hopes of making the Phillies roster -- if the team found a taker for Wes Helms, Snelling would likely remain and get a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Spidale broke minor league camp as a member of the IronPigs, seemingly having accomplished his goal of earning a spot on the Triple-A roster.

But when the Phillies host the Nationals today, Helms will be in a Phillies uniform, which means when the IronPigs open the International League season Thursday at Scranton, Snelling will be in a Lehigh Valley uniform.
Snelling was asked one of the obvious questions he gets. His answer:
"'I don't want to think about that,'' Snelling answered when asked whether his health is the only thing that's kept him from being a consistent major league player. ''That's a what-if, and who's to say if I stayed healthy anything could happen. That's just how it is. All I'm looking for is to have some fun.''
Fun in Pennsylvania. Sounds good to me. So does taking a look at some of the other stories on yesterday's Iron Pig game.

It reminded me of something

This is how the first game at the new Washington ballpark ended:

This is how the first game at Coors Field ended.
Gleaming, new Coors Field hosted its first regular-season game on April 26, 1995, and Dante Bichette ended the night by leaving a glorious impression that still hasn't faded. The place opened with a wild game that ushered in a season of high-scoring, exciting and successful baseball, and Bichette punctuated it with a 14th-inning, three-run homer to beat the Mets.
There is a video link at the story. I'd love to embed it here, but MLB.com isn't that enlightened yet. I'm surprised Awful Announcing has the video of the Nationals game still available.

Hello, Chiefs

I see that Peoria has released their roster for Opening Day, 2008.
The Chicago Cubs have announced the players who will comprise the 2008 Opening Day roster for the Peoria Chiefs. Headlining for the Chiefs this year are Robert Hernandez, who is returning for his second season with the team, Josh Donaldson, Ryan Acosta, and Kyler Burke. Other returning Chiefs include infielder Jonathan Mota, outfielder Dylan Johnston, catcher Blake Lalli, and pitcher Blake Parker, among others.

The 2008 roster includes eight players who played with the Chiefs last season plus another who played for the team in 2006. Ten players were acquired from the 2007 draft, with the remaining fifteen having joined the Cubs system as far back as 2003. Eight of the players are from Latin American, with one hailing from South Korea.

3 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 3 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Grand Old Game: 365 Days of Baseball by Joseph Wallace. There are some great baseball pictures in this book…Well, nothing for February 29, but it isn’t called 366 Days of Baseball. No picture in the excerpt, that would have been lazy….HA!....Instead, here is the part of the Preface by the author.

My collections are long gone, but I’m still lucky enough to have the chance to experience the pleasures of hunting for treasure. Today I search for good stories t use in the books I write, facts about baseball and other subjects that will make readers laugh or shake their heads or think about things in a slightly different way. When I come upon a detail new to me in an old newspaper, long-out-of-print book, or conversation, I get the same quiet thrill I felt when I found a newt or a Nolan Ryan rookie card.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.



NCAA Hockey.

Wisconsin 2
N. Dakota 3

That's all.

Other ex-Rattlers

I see that Chris Tillman ('07) has been assigned to the Bowie Baysox, the Double-A Eastern League affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

Joining him is another Rattler alum, Michael Garciaparra ('03).

Gotta run. Overtime for the Badger hockey game is just about to start.

Whatever happened to....

Chris Snelling?

Snelling ('00) is still one of my all-time favorite Timber Rattlers. He's bounced around quite a bit since leaving the Mariners. He may still do a bit of bouncing. USS Mariner has a pointer to this story about the Aussie at phillyburbs.com.

The way it opens is typical Snelling:

Off the bat, the drive to left-center looked like extra bases, and no one could have blamed Phillies left fielder Chris Snelling for opting to play a carom off the wall and concede a double to Indians batter Ryan Garko.

After all, this was the ninth inning of a spring training game played on St. Patrick’s Day, an exhibition the Phillies were up two runs with nobody on base, and you’d think Snelling would be conservative in March baseball after enduring 13 surgeries in his 10-year career as a pro, eight on his left knee.

But playing it safe is never an option for Snelling, so he instinctively threw his body into harm’s way by racing back to the Bright House Field warning track and jumping and crashing into the wall.

His effort was worth it: Snelling made a great catch and escaped injury.

“The way I look at it is I’m nothing special,” Snelling said. “I don’t run fast or throw hard, and I don’t hit the ball far. I don’t do anything great. I’ve always played hard. That’s what has gotten me here, and I can’t tone it down.”

What is the main point of this article? Well, Snelling may have made the team or may be heading out to another team or may have made the team but will be heading out soon after the season starts. To the article!

The Phillies played their final spring game in Florida on Thursday, losing, 14-5, to the Detroit Tigers, then caught a flight to Philadelphia. Snelling was on the charter flight, but he had no idea where he’ll be Monday when the Phils open the regular season at home against Washington.

Snelling, who is out of options, was placed on waivers this week by the Phils. But until the waiver process plays out, Snelling remains a Phillie with a chance to be in Philadelphia for Monday’s game.

If Snelling clears waivers, which is likely, he could opt for free agency and sign with any team (unlikely), or remain in the Phillies’ organization and report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley (probable).

But if the Phils find a taker this weekend for third baseman Wes Helms, Snelling would be a good bet to be on their Opening Day roster.

If he survives, Snelling’s stay probably would be short because closer Brad Lidge is expected to come off the disabled list a week from Saturday, and the Phils, who will start the season with 11 pitchers, quickly want to get to 12.

Here is a good primer on all the organizations Snelling has called home...no matter how brief:

Snelling has been in five organizations since the 2006 offseason. Two trades sent him from Seattle to Washington to Oakland last year, then after playing 30 games in 2007 he was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay in October and promptly dealt to Philly for cash considerations in November.

That story was from March 28. That is the date of the last transaction on the Phillies site. I don't see him on their 40-man roster, but I do see TJ Bohn ('03) on that roster. Developing.

Other Teams' Rosters

I'm watching the Badger hockey game while putting off writing a few of the articles that are due tomorrow. But -- since it's the second intermission -- a few items popped into the inbox that call for at least a post.

The Beloit Snappers, Lansing Lugnuts, and Quad Cities River Bandits have released their Opening Day rosters.

From the Snapper website:
The Beloit Snappers first official active roster has some familiar faces on it from last season’s Midwest League Western Division Championship team. Eleven players from the 2007 squad have been assigned by the Minnesota Twins to return to the Snappers for the start of the ’08 season. Beloit will also sport somewhat of a younger team, having twelve players from the 2007 draft.

Highly touted prospects Chris Parmelee (2006 1st rounder) and Joe Benson (2006 2nd rounder) will return to roam the outfield for the Snappers. Last season Parmelee led Beloit with 15 home runs and 70 RBIs while sporting a .414 slugging percentage. Benson, Baseball America’s #2 rated prospect in the Twins’ organization, was the team leader last year in hits (110), runs (73), walks (49), stolen bases (18) and triples (8).
The entire roster appears to be here. Yes, Jair Fernandez (WI, '07) is listed as one of the catchers for Beloit. The Rattlers are in Beloit April 18-20 and the Snappers visit Appleton April 25-27.

From the Lugnut website:
Kevin Ahrens, the Blue Jays top pick in the 2007 draft, will make his full-season debut with the Lugnuts. Ahrens, 18, was drafted 16th overall out of Memorial High School in Houston, Texas. The switch hitting third sacker made his professional debut last season in the rookie level Gulf Coast League and is the second consecutive top pick of the Blue Jays to start in Lansing.

Joining Ahrens will be fellow first rounders Justin Jackson and Trystan Magnuson, along with the second round selection John Tolisano.

The Lugnuts also have nine players who have suited up with the Lugnuts in the past. The entire Lansing roster is available in PDF form. The Lugnut roster may look a bit different when they come to Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium July 29-31.

From the River Bandits website:

The initial River Bandits roster is loaded with young talent and high-ceiling prospects, headed by the Cardinals' first-round pick in the 2007 draft, 19-year-old shortstop Pete Kozma. The Oklahoma native hit .491 during his high school career, registering a school-record .553 average as a Junior and leading Owasso High School to a state championship as a Senior. In his final season he was also named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Oklahoma, while receiving national honors as the Rawlings High School Gold Glove shortstop and a second-team Louisville Slugger High School All-American on his way to becoming the 18th overall pick in the draft and the No. 7 prospect in the Cardinals organization according to Baseball America.

Kozma is one of five teenagers on the River Bandits roster. Fellow 19-year-old Beau Riportella, a 10th-round pick in last year's draft, was one of the true stars for the Cardinals' short-season affiliate in Johnson City. He hit .315 with 10 stolen bases during his 48-game professional debut with the Johnson City Cardinals last season. The River Bandits will also have a pair of 18-year-olds on the roster in third baseman Domnit Bolivar, who split the 2007 season between Johnson City and Batavia, and catcher Luis De La Cruz, who hit .281 in the Gulf Coast League last year.

Great news, everyone! The tandem starter system is back in Davenport!

Utilizing the tandem starter system for the second consecutive season, there will be a number of power arms in the Quad Cities rotation. Fifth-round pick Thomas Eager is the most high profile of the bunch, drawing comparisons by Baseball America to former Cincinnati Reds' closer and member of the "Nasty Boys," Rob Dibble.

The starting rotation will include a pair of returning players in 20-year-olds Blake King and Shaun Garceau. King, the great-nephew of Mickey Mantle, is considered by Baseball America to be the No. 26 prospect in the Cardinals organization. He is a flame-throwing right-hander who enters this season with 201 strikeouts over 173 professional innings. Garceau, who spent the entire season in the Midwest League in 2007, showed flashes of brilliance in striking out nearly a batter per inning, including a spectacular win on June 2 in which he struck out nine over four innings against Wisconsin.

The entire roster is here. The Rattlers open the season against the Bandits at Modern Woodmen Park this Thursday.

#2 reliever

Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider (among other things) has this post that is mainly about Mark Lowe ('05).

Since Rafael Soriano was give away for FREE to the Atlanta Braves last winter, there has been some question as to which of the remaining relievers was second only to closer J.J. Putz.

In brief conversations last season, some believed it was since-traded left-hander George Sherrill. Others thought it was rookie right-hander Brandon Morrow, at least at times, and there were stints in which right-hander Sean Green was that guy, too.

If you’re wondering who might get the nod in 2008, wonder no more.

Barring a lack of luck and a kick in the rear from karma itself, right-hander Mark Lowe is the easy choice to set up Putz and cover high-leverage situations in the seventh and eighth innings.

Jason picks out some big names to compare Lowe to stuff-wise (RR: is that a word?)

There are only four other pitchers in the division with stuff that is equal to or better than Lowe’s; A healthy Rich Harden in Oakland, Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez, though a 100 percent healthy Lowe isn’t far off at all, Felix Hernandez and Putz.

Sounds good to me.

Accepting change (Updated)

The fans of the SW, er, sorry the River Bandits are adjusting to a lot of changes this off-season: New ownership, new stadium name, new team nickname, new colors...

According to this article in the Quad Cities Times, they are handling it pretty well.
Mike Dierkes of Davenport recalls watching Quad-City Cubs teams play around 1980 and he simply wants to see the sport succeed in the Quad-Cities.

“I’m glad to see the River Bandits name back. I was never a fan of the Swing name although it was unique,’’ Dierkes said. “And they can call the stadium whatever they want. It will always be JOD to me.

“I just want the team to be successful and see good crowds at the ballpark. I’d hate for there not to be baseball in the Quad-Cities.’’
The new management is running this promotion to help with the change. Much better idea than running down the logo of a league rival.
[Cecilia] Taylor is among the fans who are looking forward to Lose Your Blues Night on Saturday, a chance for fans to receive a River Bandits T-shirt in exchange for old powder blue and burnt orange Swing of the Quad-Cities apparel.

“I probably have a shirt or two that will get turned in that day,’’ Taylor said. “It’s time for a change. It’s nice knowing that never again will people ask me ‘What’s a Swing?’ ’’
No. It was pronounced SWING! Man, I'm going to miss that.

UPDATE: Posted the above part without looking at today's entries on the Bandits. Here is a bit more of their preview.

New owners reinventing River Bandits franchise

Reinventing? How?
“The biggest improvement people are going to notice is a complete change of attitude and the way we value and appreciate our fans and corporate partners,’’ Heller said. “The fans come first. They are our priority, and treating them royally is our way of doing business.’’

For example, if a young fan spills a soda pop, it will be replaced at no charge.

When lines at the ticket counters get long, the club plans to hand out complimentary popcorn outside the gates and entertain fans with performances by local talent.

The River Bandits are even literally rolling out a red carpet for fans, who will walk on it as they enter the stadium.

“It’s an entirely different approach,’’ [Dave] Heller said. “We have larger front-office and game-day staffs who will be accessible and we want our guests to understand that they are the most important people in the world to us, because they are.’’

There will be washroom attendants at Friday and Saturday home games — a first for a sporting venue in the Quad-Cities — and entertainment begins one hour before the first pitch of each game.
There are some audio clips 1 through 5 in the story. Click to listen.

Also in the QC Times is a profile of the almost entirely new staff.
Bandits' front-office staff an 'all-star team'
A fresh coat of paint on the wall isn’t the only makeover in the front office of the Quad-Cities River Bandits this season.

Nearly the entire staff is new as well.

Only director of broadcasting Ben Chiswick and director of baseball operations Bob Evans return from the front-office staff in 2007.

Dave Heller, managing partner of MainStreet Iowa, the Midwest League team’s new owner, views the changes that have taken place in the front office as a necessity to move the team forward.

“As I walked around the office last summer, there wasn’t a lot of life,” Heller said. “It was dead. Changing the culture and the attitude was something that had to be done.”
That's the thing about us radio guys. We are survivors.

Alumni Report

Jay has put together another Rattler Alumni Report over at the main page.

Some of the stuff you knew. Denny Stark signed and Paul Fagan released by the M's. There is a lot of independent league signing news.

A couple of note would be:

Jamal Strong ('01) signing with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League and Brent Metheny ('03, '04) and Ivan Blanco ('05) signing with the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Northern League.

Click the link for all the news.

We'll know tomorrow

I will mention here that speculation of who will be on any Midwest League team roster -- even at this point -- is just, um, speculation.

Mike Curto of the Tacoma Rainiers reported that Phillippe Aumont is heading to the Timber Rattlers and he got that from Rattler manager Terry Pollreisz. That is the only thing we know for sure.

The roster won't be official until the team gets on the plane tomorrow morning to get to Appleton.

Remember this story at MILB on the Midwest League? Scroll down to the bottom and you will see the names Nolan Gallagher and Keith Renaud as starting the season with the Rattlers.

I can't find it right now, but I remember seeing that Matt Mangini was supposed to come to Wisconsin. That was out a few days before it was confirmed that he was going to High Desert.

I was sure that Jair Fernandez was going to be with the Rattlers, until he was sent to the Twins yesterday.

Rattler fans. Mariner minor league followers. Everyone. Breathe and just relax. The roster will be out tomorrow. Check back here or the Timber Rattler website for the final word.

A lot to take in

The Seattle Times has a lot of Mariner stuff in their preview today. I couldn't find a direct link to a page that just has the previews, so here is the link to their Mariner site. It should be good for the rest of Sunday.

However, here are the two main articles about Seattle in '08:

General election, 2008 season: Part 1

General election, 2008 season: Part 2
Here is Proposition No. 8 of the ten that are on the ballot.

Is the farm system stocked with players who can help this year and beyond?

Yes: [Jerry] Brewer, [Steve] Kelley, [Larry] Stone
No: [Geoff] Baker

The case for: Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien managed not to get traded and could be in the starting lineup by June. Carlos Triunfel looked like another A-Rod at age 17. Phillipe Aumont is already being mentioned in the same breath as Randy Johnson. Mark Lowe and John Huber could pitch in most major-league bullpens. Lefty starters Ryan Feierabend and Ryan Rowland-Smith could become rotation mainstays.

The case against: Dealing away Adam Jones will haunt the M's. Balentien is one-dimensional, has flaws is his power swing and there's little outfield depth beyond him. Mike Morse and Jeremy Reed are marginal big leaguers. Clement won't be catching in the majors, making him a wasted No. 1 pick. Aumont is years away. Judging Triunfel at his age is a joke. Feierabend and Rowland-Smith are fourth starters at best.

Also of note to Rattler fans from the preview:

Meet the Mariners -- Bullpen. Oddly, the link has the word rotation in it, Erik Bedard is at the top of the page along with Felix Hernandez ('03). Maybe this should have been Meet the Mariners -- Pitchers? But, that is just second-guessing from a third-rate blogger.

Anyway, scroll down for notes on ex-Rattlers Hernandez, JJ Putz ('00), Eric O'Flaherty ('04, '05), Mark Lowe ('05), and Ryan Rowland-Smith ('02, '03). Ignore the fact that Brandon Morrow and RA Dickey are in this preview, since this piece was almost definitely written before the final roster decisions were made yesterday.

Here is a brief capsule called Inside the Mariners farm system. It has team, level, manager, opening day, and player to watch. This is the Seattle Times Player to watch on the Timber Rattlers: Johnny DuRocher.

I'll cover this in a moment or two.

Field Photos (3/29)

Taken from the left field seats a little after 5:00pm on 3/29:

Taken from the top of the steps near Suite one a little after 5:00pm on 3/29:

Edit: Had the day wrong in the title of the post and the identifier of both pictures. Should have been 3/29 all along.

Cubs 4, M's 2

The M's lost to the Cubs 4-2 in Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon in the final exhibition game for both teams. Box score HERE.

Ex-Rattlers for the M's.

Raul Ibanez (Foxes '94): 1-for-2
Brent Johnson ('05): 1-for-2
Michael Saunders ('06): 1-for-2
Mike Wilson ('05): 0-for-1
Adam Moore ('06): 1-for-1
Carlos Triunfel ('07): 0-for-2

Seattle opens the regular season on Monday afternoon in Seattle against the Texas Rangers.

4 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 4 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig by Jonathon Eig. This is a quick sketch of the parents of the Iron Horse.

Heinrich left Germany at the age of twenty. He may have emigrated illegally, since there appear to be no records of his journey in either Germany or the United States. He settled first in Chicago, didn’t like his prospects there, and soon tried New York. Long after most men his age had married, Heinrich remained single. No doubt his pokey work habits made him something short of a prize catch. He had no known family in the United States and probably lived alone, renting a bed or sofa from a family that needed whatever pittance he could afford to pay. In 1901, at the age of thirty-four, he finally met the woman he would marry.

Anna Christina Fack was born in 1882 in Schleswig-Holstein, a German province near the Danish border. When Christina was one year old, her mother died after delivering a stillborn son. Her father, a carpenter, quickly remarried. It’s not clear whether Christina continued to live with her father’s new family or moved in with her grandparents. She grew into a tall, sturdy woman, with powerful hands and forearms, like her father, and no waist whatsoever. Her hair was curly and blond, but there was nothing cute or girlish about her. As soon as she was old enough, she began working as a servant around Schleswig-Holstein, saving her money and plotting her escape.

She left home in May 1900, five months after her eighteenth birthday, sailing from Hamburg to New York in third-class steerage on a ship called the Pennsylvania. She had no friends or relatives waiting for her in the United States, no job and no place to live. As she stepped off the boat at Ellis Island, she told the clerk recording her arrival that she had twenty-five dollars to her name. She may well have been lying. Immigrants often exaggerated their wealth for fear of being turned away, and twenty-five dollars was a considerable sum for a new arrival traveling in third-class steerage.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


Traded to Minnesota

I wasn't going to post anything more today, but this item is something that Rattler fans may want to know. Jair Fernandez ('07) has been traded.

Lookout Landing was where I saw this item first.
R.A. Dickey loses out to Baek's option status, but remains in the organisation as the Mariners traded C Jair Fernandez (i.e. a warm body) to the Twins for the rights to his contract. He'll start the year in Tacoma.
I had not seen this anywhere else, so I headed to Geoff Baker's Blog, where Larry Stone had this confirmation.

It was a weird scene this morning at Cashman Field, with the Mariners' brass huddling in the bowels of the stadium, and a mixture of elated and devastated players as they learned their fate to start the season.

The most dejected was R.A. Dickey, who in a weird twist found himself optioned to Class AAA Tacoma. Here's how that came down: the Mariners swung a deal with the Twins, sending catcher Jair Fernandez to Minnesota in exchange for the Twins rejecting Seattle's offer to return Dickey to their organization. As a Rule 5 selection, the Mariners had to offer Dickey back to the Twins before sending him to the minors. Dickey also was available via waivers to the other 28 clubs, but surprisingly was not grabbed by anyone. Dickey, who pitched great all spring, was truly stunned and disappointed to be going to the minors, but took it like a pro.

Fernandez had a pretty good shot at being on the Rattler Opening Day roster after playing 52 games for the Rattlers last season. He spent a lot of time on the DL and was the Timber Rattler player who had the oddest injury of 2007: He twisted an ankle getting out of the way of a pitch in Fort Wayne.

This spring, Fernandez spent a lot of time in big league camp to help out with the catching duties. Now, he's not in the organization anymore.

I wonder if he is will be joining the Snappers in Beloit or head to Florida for a bit before going somewhere else in the Minnesota system. Wherever he is going, the Rattlers wish Jair good luck.

The Baseball Cube page for Fernandez.

This should be fun

The Dodgers are hosting the Red Sox at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum tonight. The Coliseum was the first home of the Dodgers when they first moved to the West Coast in 1958 and with this being the 50th anniversary season they return to the cozy confines. How cozy?

Carl Erskine vividly remembers a most distressing experience at the Los Angeles Coliseum 50 years ago. Don Newcombe easily recalls the difficulty of doing his job there.

Erskine and Newcombe had plenty of company as pitchers for the Dodgers in their first four years in Los Angeles, having to ply their trade at a facility that was never meant for baseball.

Routine fly balls, pop-ups actually, soared over a 42-foot-high screen in left field, where the distance from home plate to the foul pole was a ridiculous 251 feet.

"I won't say it was a joy to pitch in the Coliseum," Newcombe said. "You felt like you were shaking hands with the left fielder."

No. Cozier.

Actually, it will be even more challenging, because the distance from the plate to the foul pole will be only 201 feet, although batters will have to clear a 60-foot screen.

"It'll be interesting and definitely something that will be talked about for years," Boston's Kevin Youkilis said. "[Batting practice] could be interesting."

Gotta love how AP uses a Red Sox player instead of a Dodger player for a quote.

Oh, and there will be people, lots of people.

The Dodgers said Friday that the full allotment of 115,300 tickets — with all the proceeds going to ThinkCure, the Dodgers' official charity — have been sold, including about 25,000 for standing-room only behind the lower fence in right and center. Two big-screen televisions will make it possible to watch the action.

Coliseum diagram from Ballpark Tours.

Field Photos (3/28)

Taken from the left field grass seats around 5:10pm on 3/28/08:

Taken from the top of the steps near Suite One around 5:10pm on 3/28/08:

Invisible high fives for everyone!

Not baseball, but worth a look at what a bad season will do to someone like Andrew Bogut.

Tip of the Cap to The Bucky Channel.

The first one to go negative lost? Shocking!

Color me surprised -- well, not really. The Clinton LumberKings are on to the Final Four in that logo contest over at CNBC. They advanced, despite -- or, perhaps because of -- a negative attack by their opponents, the Quad Cities River Bandits.

The Wichita Wingnuts are up next for Clinton. Game starts at 8AM on Monday morning.

Whitecaps preview

The five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time Midwest League Champion West Michigan Whitecaps are ready to defend the crown.

West Michigan Whitecaps manager Joe DePastino smiled after he was asked about the talent of the Class A players he had coached Wednesday to a 5-3 victory over the Houston Astros' Class A team at the Joker Marchant Stadium minor league facility.

Many of those players could join him this seaon in West Michigan.

"I'm very happy," DePastino said. "After struggling the first couple of spring games, we're playing great.

Like who?

Wednesday, the Class A Tigers pounded out 11 hits against Houston, with center fielder Kyle Peter (Washburn, Kan.) leading the attack with three singles and an RBI.

A 34th-round draft selection last season, Peter played for the Gulf Coast League Tigers (rookie ball) and the Oneonta Tigers (short season club).

There's a strong possibility he will start the season in West Michigan. Ron Bourquin and Chris Carlson also are on that list.

The Whitecaps visit Appleton April 28-30.

UPDATE: Missed this blog post in which DePastino says: This is our team. What would a starting lineup look like for the Caps?
Kyle Peter, right field
Mark McBratney, left field
Justin Henry, second base
Casper Wells, center field
Cory Middleton, designated hitter
Audy Ciriaco, shortstop
Jordan Newton, catcher
Joe Tucker, third base

M's 10, Cubs 2

The Mariners beat the Cubs 10-2 in Las Vegas on Friday night. Box score HERE.

Ex-Rattlers for the M's:
Raul Ibanez (Foxes, '94): 2-for-4, HR, 2RBI, 2 runs
Matt Tuiasosopo ('05): 0-for-1
Eric O'Flaherty ('04, '05): 2IP, 2H, R, 4K
Mark Lowe ('05): IP, 0H, 0R, 2K
JJ Putz ('00): IP, 0H, 0R, K

The M's and Cubs play in Vegas again this afternoon.

5 Days until Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 5 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today's book is the Robin Waterfield translation of The Histories by Herodotus.
Croesus was Lydian by birth. He was the son of Alyattes and ruled over all the various peoples who live west of the River Halys, which flows from the south (between where the Syrians and the Paphlagonians live) and in the north issues into the sea which is known as the Euxine Sea. Croesus was the first non-Greek we know to have subjected the Greeks to the payment of tribute., though he made alliances with some of them. The ones he made his tributaries were the Ionians, Aeolians, and the Asian Dorians, while he allied himself with the Lacedaemonians. Before Coresus' reign all Greeks were free; the Cimmerian expedition which reached Ionia before Croesus' time was a raiding party, intent on pillage, and not a conquest of the communities there.
Put today's excerpt in a baseball context.


For the new listeners out there

It looks like there are quite a few new readers of Rattler Radio over the last few days. That means there are quite a few new listeners to the radio/internet broadcasts this season.

Here's what you can expect when you tune in to hear yourself some Mehring:

"I'm not sure what that means." You'll hear that a lot, new listeners. I'm told that you get used to it.

According to this website, the real announcer of that above video was John Mayer. Tell you what, John. You stop with your accurate imitations of me as a baseball announcer; I'll stop with my dead-on versions of Why Georgia and Gravity*. You will no longer be confused with a middling Low-A minor league announcer and I will no longer be confused with a Grammy-Award winning singer-songwriter. Seems like a fair deal to me.

Tip of the cap to Awful Announcing.

*-For some reason, I can't quite capture Waiting on the World to Change.

No Rhubarb Revealed

The Tacoma Daily Index caught up with the writer of No Rhubarb!, a fan blog about the Tacoma Rainiers. The results are in the link. Plenty of good stuff about the Rainiers from Justin Carleton.

A taste of Minor League Team, Major League Fan.

TACOMA DAILY INDEX: How long have you been running No Rhubarb, and how did it start?

JUSTIN CARLETON: It started about a year ago. I was blogging off and on for three or four years. Initially, I was doing a lot of stuff on the Seattle Mariners. I grew up around here. I was a big Mariners fan. When we moved to Tacoma, my wife and I made a real attempt to get more locally involved. I had an idea one day. You know, there are hundreds of blogs on the Mariners, most of them a lot better than mine, but there aren't a lot of blogs about minor league teams. So I thought I would go ahead and give it a shot with the Rainiers. My wife and I had gone to several games prior, and it seemed like it would be a nice little niche.

Nice idea, Kane County

Oh, Rattler Radio pokes some fun, with all due respect, at the Kane County Cougars, but I like this idea. Not, kinda like this idea. Really like this idea.

100th Cougar Contest

The Cougars are looking forward to celebrating the 100th Kane County Cougars alum to play in the Major Leagues. Prior to the start of the 2008 season, 96 former Cougars have played at the Major League level. Here’s your chance to guess which Cougars player will become # 100!

We’ve selected nine players and provided brief biographies of their careers as well as an ‘other’ player. To enter, scroll to the bottom of the page and select the player you think will become the 100th former Cougar to play in the Major Leagues and follow the submission instructions on the screen. To qualify as a Major Leaguer, a player must appear in an official regular season or post season Major League game.

Tip of the cap to Our Sports Central.com.

One more from Mike

Tacoma Rainier broadcaster Mike Curto has been filing dispatches from Spring Training in Arizona. His third day is HERE. The excerpt below is about a Triple-A game from Wednesday.

the Rainiers lost to Omaha (the Royals Triple-A affiliate), 5-3. Robert Rohrbaugh started and pitched four scoreless innings, but he allowed five runs to score in the fifth. Manager Daren Brown said he simply got tired, which is not unusual for a starting pitcher in the fifth inning at this time of spring. Pitchers are still building up the arm strength needed to work deeper into games - something you will see when the Rainiers season starts next Thursday. Don't expect any Tacoma starter to last more than six innings during the first couple of weeks of the season.
Day four is a three part epic. Part one HERE; part two HERE; and part three HERE. It is worth it to look at all three parts. But, the one thing to excerpt from day four is from part three. Pay attention Rattler fans.

I found an intrasquad game between the two Class A teams, Wisconsin and High Desert. I settled in and watched former Rainiers hitting coach Terry Pollreisz in his new role as manager of the Wisconsin TimberRattlers.

To say that Pollz is excited about his new job would be an understatement. He says he is really embracing his new role, especially the parts he did not get to do when he was just the hitting coach. He's excited about the prospects on his club, and he confirmed that last year's first round draft pick Phillippe Aumont will be in his starting rotation. He's even ready for the travel in the Midwest League, claiming that the long bus rides will be "simpler" than PCL air travel.

Nothing in the Midwest Leauge is "simpler" than the PCL...except, maybe the radio announcer at the Mariner affiliate.

Field Photos (3/27)

Taken from the left field grass seats around 4:45pm on 3/27/08:

Taken from the top of the steps near Suite one around 4:45pm on 3/27/08:

Boy, was it windy today.

M's 7, Giants 2

In the other half of the Thursday split squad, the Mariners faced the Giants in San Franciscon and won 7-2. Box score HERE.

Ex-Rattlers in the game for the M's:
Raul Ibanez (Foxes '94): 0-for-2, 2BBs
Matt Tuiasosopo ('05): defensive replacement
Mike Wilson ('05): 0-for-1
Carlos Triunfel ('07): 0-for-1
Michael Saunders ('06): 1-for-1
Ryan Rowland-Smith ('02, '03): 2IP, 4H, R, 4K

Ex-Rattler for the Giants:
Justin Leone ('00): 0-for-1

Mariners 10, Padres 10

In the final Cactus League game of the Spring, the Mariners and the Padres tied 10-10. Box score HERE.

Plenty of ex-Rattlers in this half of the split squad from Thursday afternoon for the M's:

Jeff Dominguez ('06): 0-for-1
Johan Limonta ('06): 2-for-2, run, 2RBI
Luis Oliveros ('02): 0-for-3
Alex Liddi ('07): 0-for-1
Greg Halman ('07): 3-for-4, 3 runs, HR, RBI
Kuo Hui Lo ('07): 0-for-1
Carlos Peguero ('07): 1-for-1
Felix Hernandez ('03): 5IP, 9H, 3R, 5K
Shawn Kelley ('07): 1/3 IP, 0H, 0R, K
Jason Mackintosh ('04): IP, H, 0R, 2K

Geoff Baker has this note on the homer by Halman:

The "Mariners'' fell behind 10-9 in the top of the ninth, but Greg Halman, pride and joy of Harlem (the Netherlands version, not New York's) opened the bottom of the frame with a solo homer to left. Halman hit 16 home runs in short-season Class A ball in Everett last season. Big-time prospect. So, it's now 10-10. Six errors in the game, four by San Diego. The field goal kicker is warming up, I'm told.

I would have gone with penalty shots, but that's just me.

6 Days until Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 6 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today's book is The Best American Sports Writing 1996 edited by John Feinstein. Feinstein's first selection is a David Davis article out of LA Weekly about boxing legend Jerry Quarry called The 13th Round. This is part of the article is about a match between Quarry and Joey "Harbor Hawk" Orbillo.

"I won the first three rounds and in the fourth round, I came out throwing some jabs: boom, boom, boom," recalls Orbillo, who now works with the International Longshoreman's Warehouse Union in the Long Beach/San Pedro Aarea. "And the next thing I know, I'm in a bowling alley at three o'clock in the morning. I'm like, 'Who won the fight?' My friends picked me up, took me into the bathroom and said, 'Look at yourself. Think who won the fight.' That Jerry Quarry. Man, he was a hard hitter."
Put today's excerpt in a baseball context.


Thursday Motivation (3/27)

Fan Fest Reminder

Tuesday, April 1 is Fan Fest at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. It starts at noon. It's FREE. There's a FREE hot dog, FREE popcorn, and a FREE soda for all in attendance.

There is also a planned scrimmage:

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers announce they will scrimmage the Lawrence [University] Vikings baseball team as part of their Fan Fest at Time Warner Cable Field on Tuesday, April 1st. The 5 inning contest begins at 3pm and admission is free.

The scrimmage will be run as a regular game except Timber Rattler pitchers will face the hitters of both teams. Also, Lawrence batters will be using wooden bats.

The Rattlers have a workout starting at noon and there is an autograph session beginning at 5:00pm. See you there.

State of the Seattle Bullpen

Geoff Baker has some bullpen news from Arizona. Mark Lowe ('05) gets some pub.

A fuzzy bullpen picture began to clear up even before the first Mariners workout of the day.

That's when right-handed reliever Chris Reitsma and southpaw Arthur Rhodes were called into some early morning meetings and told they had no chance of making the team. The picture became even more clear by the ninth inning of an 8-5 win by the Mariners over the Kansas City Royals later in the afternoon.

It was in that final frame that relief pitcher Mark Lowe, making a comeback from elbow surgery just like Reitsma and Rhodes, fired consecutive pitches at 95 mph and then another at 96 mph to finish off the game's final hitter on a pop fly to right. For Lowe, who retired three straight hitters after surrendering a leadoff double, the return to mid-90s velocity and the ability to control it has almost certainly landed him a spot on this team.

"That's kind of the whole idea of spring training," Lowe said. "You want to work your way up and then kind of ease into the season if you can."

Also in the story, down a bit, is this, um bit.

The Mariners were treated to an advance look at 18-year-old shortstop prospect Carlos Triunfel, who replaced Yuniesky Betancourt in the sixth inning and made a dazzling defensive play right off the bat. The inning's first batter, Mark Teahen, hit a ball that seemed headed into center field.

But it struck the second base bag and popped in the air. Triunfel had been ranging to his left, snagged the ball and made a cannon throw to first base while off balance to nab Teahen.

One other note: Ryan Feierabend was optioned down to AAA.

7 Days Until Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 7 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today's book is Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz. This excerpt is a letter written by a fan of the strip to Jean Schulz after the death of the creator of good ol' Charlie Brown.

"I remember [as a child] often being consumed by feelings of profound anxiety and unrest, and yet as soon as I could come home to read my Peanuts books, I was peacful, even happy."

"When I was about 11 years old I had to go into the hospital and I was very scared. My mother had to leave me after visiting hours, but my stuffed Snoopy didn't. I held it all night long."

"I often identified with Charlie Brown's feelings of inadequacy, of not fitting in anywhere. And my favorite character was Linus, who was sensible but had an almost magical sense of the power of his innocence and imagination."

"Charlie Brown and the gang were a solace and a balm to my soul. I always wanted to tell this to Mr. Schulz. So now, I tell you."

Sparky [Charles Schulz's nickname] once said, "I would be satisfied if they wrote on my tombstone 'He made people happy.'"

He did that, and so much more.

Put today's excerpt in a baseball context.


Field Photos (3/26)

Taken from the left field grass seats around 4:30pm on 3/26:

Taken from the steps near suite one around 4:30pm on 3/26:

Not much snow left on the field*.

*-Originally, the last three words of the post were in the stands. There still is a little snow left in the stands. Post changed to reflect, um, accuracy.

M's 8, Royals 5

Seattle beat Kansas City 8-5 in Cactus League action on Wednesday afternoon. Box score HERE.

Ex-Rattlers for the M's:
Carlos Triunfel ('07): 0-for-0, SF, RBI
Cha-Seung Baek ('00): IP, 2H, R
Mark Lowe ('05): IP, H, 0R, K, save

Ex-Rattler for the Royals:
Gil Meche ('97, '98): 5IP, 7H, 5R, 4ER, BB, 3K (Loss)

Seattle has a split squad set for Thursday. One game against the Padres in Peoria, AZ. The other against the Giants in Phoenix.

Hello, Curto

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers. He has been doing a little blogging from Spring Training.

Day one is HERE. What I think is the main item of interest to Rattler fans is excerpted below.
Future Rainiers outfielder Michael Saunders pulled a deep home run to right field. Saunders will start in AA but he is a Name To Know. A BC native, Saunders had a big year last year in the Cal League, and then he played well for a month after a late-season promotion to AA. We might see him in T-town later this summer. Saunders launched his homer off an A-ball reliever, but it was a left-vs-left situation.
Day two is HERE. What I think is the main item of interest to Rattlers fans has been excerpted below.
I ran into Denny Stark today. He's trying to make a comeback after not pitching the last two years - a story recently written by John McGrath in The News Tribune. Rainiers fans will recall that Stark was the ace of the 2001 championship squad, going 14-2 while winning the PCL Pitcher of the Year award. He was then traded to Colorado along with Brian Fuentes in the ill-fated Jeff Cirillo trade. Sorry I had to bring that up. Anyway, Stark told me that his arm is all the way back. Stark has always been a class act and I'm hoping he makes the team.
Stark was a Timber Rattler in 1997.

Thanks for the reports, Mike. Tip of the cap to USS Mariner for pointing out Mike's project.

You look......different

Lookout Landing has been nervous about their recent redesign. Click on the link to say they look, um, great.

Make sure that you pick out the goofiest looking avatar possible too. They love that kind of thing over there.

Prospect Insider reports

Jonathon Aicardi has a Minor League News post over at Prospect Insider. Of interest to Timber Rattler fans:
Several minor league players were given their outright release in the last few days, including RHPs Chad Fillinger, Jose De La Cruz and Will Brown, LHP Paul Fagan, Infielder Reed Eastley, and C Juan Beltran, among others … Eastley requested his walking papers and the club obliged.
Fillinger, Fagan, Eastley, and Beltran are all Rattler alumni. Nothing on the others part of the "among others".

Next up, Aicardi's take on a potential High Desert roster:

While the big-league club figures out their roster, High Desert appears to be wrapped up with 2008 supplemental first rounder Matt Mangini at 3B, top prospect Carlos Triunfel at SS, Chris Minaker at 2B, Johan Limonta at 1B, and Travis Scott catching. The OF will most likely consist of super athelete Greg Halman, Carlos Peguero and speedy Kuo Hui-Lo.

What does that mean for 3B Alex Liddi? The M’s are still very high on him and he’s likely to begin 2008 with the Mavs as well, switching between 3B and DH with Mangini.

Whether or not he remains there is a story yet to be told, however, as the parent organization is considering a position move, possibly to left field.

Note that this is Aicardi's take on the roster for the Mavs. Not mine. Take a look for the possible pitchers on the staff in the HD.

Last, bad news for Stephen Kahn ('05):
His 2007 season already a disaster thanks to a torn left knee ligament, RHP Stephen Kahn is now likely to miss the entire 2008 season as well, due to a tear in his right ACL. Once considered among the higher-ceiling relief prospects in Seattle’s ranks, Kahn now faces the commitment of another year recovering from knee surgery.

For our Australian Readers

From the Mariner website:

Rowland-Smith's fate remains uncertain

The run left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith surrendered during Tuesday's Minor League game didn't count against his Cactus League ERA, which remains perfect.

He has not allowed an earned in 12 innings.

But whether that's good enough to land a spot on the Mariners' 25-man Opening Day roster is up in the air, and he knows it.

"It plays on your mind all the time," he said after pitching two innings against the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate on one of the practice fields at the Peoria Sports Complex. "You try not to read into anything when you see who's throwing on this day or that day, but you're trying to figure out where you fit in."

It would seem to depend on the number 11 or the number 12.

If [Manager John] McLaren and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre go with a 12-man staff, Rowland-Smith would be a strong candidate.

"That's what I wanted to do coming into camp," he said. "I knew the rotation was set and I just tried to get one of the spots in the bullpen. I think I've given myself a good opportunity.

"I'm really happy with how I've thrown, really happy. There were a few things, like a leadoff walk here or there, or a couple of two-strike pitches I wasn't happy with. But overall, I'm stoked with how I've done."

I'll wrap the post up with words to live by from the lefty.
"I always try to stay positive and tell myself that it's not where I am in April," he said, "it's where I am in September."

Lowe on the mend

Mark Lowe ('05) has been battling his way back to health and just passed an important marker. He pitched in a game on consecutive days for the first time since his surgery. Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News-Tribune is there.

It wasn’t his best performance as a professional, but Mark Lowe thinks he proved he’s ready to return to a full-time spot with the Seattle Mariners.

The hard-throwing right-handed reliever pitched on consecutive days for the first time in more than a year. And while his performance on Monday was a bit shaky at first, it might be enough to secure his job in the bullpen.

Lowe, who pitched a one-hit scoreless inning against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, allowed one run on three hits in one inning against the White Sox on Monday.

Lowe was unhappy with the run against the Sox, but was happy with his velocity.

A positive sign on Lowe’s road to recovery from elbow surgery was that the velocity on his fastball ranged from 90 to 93 mph, basically the same as Sunday. Throwing back-to-back days was big for him and the coaching staff as they try to put together the bullpen.

“It’s been something that I’ve been wanting to do,” Lowe said. “I haven’t done it in a year and half. It was August of ’06 the last time I went back-to-back.”

Catching up with...

Ex-Rattler manager Mike Goff.

Goff was the first manager of the Timber Rattlers (1995 and 1996). He is managing in Chattanooga this year. Dave Paschal of the Chattanooga Times Free Press has the story and the history lesson.

In the summer of 1996, Tiger Woods turned pro and Monica Lewinsky no longer worked as a White House intern.

That was also the last time Mike Goff managed a baseball team, but that changed earlier this month when he began leading the Double-A working group of the Cincinnati Reds. Members of that Double-A working group will become Chattanooga Lookouts this weekend, when all of Cincinnati’s minor leaguers break camp and head for their developmental destinations.

“Managing has always been my dream and my love, and it’s been ffun getting back on the field with these guys,” Goff said Tuesday. “It will be a lot more fun once we get out of here and get our club set.”

Goff was hired by Cincinnati after spending 16 seasons in the Seattle Mariners organization, which included roles the past three years of first-base coach and bench coach with the big-league team. The last team he managed was Wisconsin in the Single-A Midwest League.

The pitching coach for the Lookouts will be ex-Brewer and ex-Lawrence University pitching coach Chris Bosio. That first game against West Tennessee is going to be an interesting one.

Ain't it fun to sling some Mississippi River mud?

The Elite Eight matchup in the CNBC logo contest between the Quad Cities River Bandits and the Clinton LumberKings just got interesting.

A pre-emptive strike was launched by the Bandits. They brought up -- in fun I'm sure -- performance enhancers. Starting with the headline:


As the Quad Cities River Bandits and the Clinton LumberKings prepare for their much-anticipated Elite Eight match-up on Thursday in CNBC.com's March Madness-style Minor League Baseball logo tournament, questions have surfaced regarding an apparent change in the appearance of Louie the LumberKing.

"I'm not going to point fingers, but I've had a lot of people asked me if I've noticed a change," said River Bandits Vice President and General Manager Kirk Goodman. "I really don't think it's fair to comment on the issue. I haven't spent much one-on-one time with Louie so I'm not going to speak to his personal habits or the obvious change in his physique, head size, and appearance."

A quote from a raccoon that includes references to HGH and Barry Bonds follows that.

The LumberKings fired back with this salvo:

Louie Responds to Bandits Accusations

Shortly after asking for a partnership with the Clinton LumberKings to make it to the Elite Eight of CNBC.com's Minor League Logo Contest, the Quad Cities River Bandits have apparently made Louie the LumberKing the center of an election-style smear campaign.

Louie, who will face the River Bandits and their as-of-yet unnamed mascot tomorrow, received word of the slanderous comments and the false quotes this afternoon, and had this to say in response:

"I'd like to say to all Clinton LumberKings fans, Minor League Baseball fans, and the public in general that not at any time did I take any performance-enhancing drugs. Yes, I do look a little different this year, but all I did was change my facial hair and roll up my sleeves. I've always been muscular, and I have been subjected to the same drug tests as all players and mascots throughout baseball. I have even been tested all throughout high school and my college years at Paul Bunyan University."

That's not the most delicious part. This is:
"As the chairman of the Clinton Substance Abuse Council, I take the issue of drugs or performance-enhancers very seriously. Louie has been tested and has always passed with flying colors. Our fans, especially the children of Clinton and eastern Iowa in general need to know that their role models are clean, and Louie is as clean as they come."

The chairman of the Clinton Substance Abuse Council who is speaking in that quote...Just the LumberKing general manager Ted Tornow.

That regional final just got interesting.

Wednesday Baseball Movie Clip (3/26)

Rangers 5, M's 1

Texas beat Seattle 5-1 last night in Cactus League action. Box score HERE.

Ex-Rattlers for the Mariners:

Raul Ibanez (Foxes, '94): 0-for-4
Eric O'Flaherty ('04, '05): IP, 2H, R, K
JJ Putz ('00): IP, H, 0R, K

M's and Royals in Surprise this afternoon.
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