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Former Kitsap Sun sports editor Chuck Stark shares insight, laughter, news, views and analysis of Kitsap sports and beyond.
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Kitsapers in the pros: DL comes calling; Vettleson’s average on the rise

August 2nd, 2013 by cstark

July wasn’t a good month for three of Kitsap’s professional baseball players.

Willie Bloomquist (Diamondbacks), Jason Hammel (Orioles) and Todd Linden (Triple-A Fresno/Giants) all found their way to the disabled list.

Bloomquist was hit by pitch in late June, and after X-rays were initially negative, a CT scan revealed that he broke two bones in his hand. He was put on the DL, retroactive to June 28, in early July and was expected to miss anywhere from 6-8 weeks. He missed the first two months of the season with an oblique strain. The infielder has a .292/.342/.347 slash line in 22 games this season. The Port Orchard native, 35, will be a free agent at the end of the 2013 season.

Hammel, a right-hand pitcher and, like Bloomquist, is a South Kitsap grad. He was put on the 15-day DL earlier this week with a right flexor mass strain, and was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Friday. Hammel said he was experiencing tightness and soreness in his right arm, particularly when he throws a slider. The injury has likely effected him as he hasn’t pitched well lately allowing 12 runs and 26 hits over his last 17 1/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked 11 in that stretch. Hammel (7-8, 5.20 ERA, 21 starts, 123 innings) has lost six straight decisions. Hammel, 30, will be a free agent at the end of the season.

“He’s been managing it pretty well, but just want to see if we can get it resolved in the DL period,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter told the Baltimore Sun. “To be on the safe side, I think they’re trying to set up an MRI to see if we’re dealing with something that we don’t think we’re dealing with.”

Linden, who turned 33 in June 30, was put on the disabled list by the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies on July 24. The Central Kitsap grad, who started his college career at Washington and ended it at LSU, started the season on the DL and never got untracked this season, hitting .204. He has 48 strikeouts in 134 at bats.This could be the end of the dream for Linden, the 41st overall pick in the 2001 draft by the San Francisco Giants. Linden spent parts of five seasons in the majors with the Giants, last in 2007. He also played 85 games with Miami in ’07. His major league numbers: .234 average, 8 homers, 36 RBIs, 502 at bats. He appeared in 270 games.

A look at Kitsap’s other pros: Drew Vettleson (Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs/Tampa Rays); Aaron Cunningham (Triple-A Round Rock Express/Rangers) and Brady Steiger (Rookie League Gulf Coast Yankees):

It’s taken a while, but Vettleson has his average up to .281 after a third straight 2-for-5 game on Thursday. The former first-round pick (42nd overall) from Central Kitsap grad struggled in the Advanced Class A Florida State League out of the gate. He hit .191 in April for the Charlotte Stone Crabs, but he found his stroke. Vettleson hit .326 in April, .296 in June and .308 in July. He’s had two hits in seven of his last 10 games (he’s 15-for-44, .341 over that stretch). The right-fielder leads the team in his (105), is second in RBIs (48) and has a .331 on-base percentage and .401 slugging percentage. He hits .304 vs. right-handers, .225 vs. lefties. He’s rated the Rays’ No. 10 overall prospect and top outfield prospect, according to MLB.com. Follow his progress here.

Cunningham, another SK grad, is hitting .244 for Round Rock after hitting just .173 in 21 July games. Some of his at-bats were given to Manny Ramirez, who is hitting .266 over 21 games since he signed with the Rangers. Cunningham is 8-for-35 (.229) over his last 10 games and has 6 home runs and 33 RBIs on the season. The right-fielder has 10 stolen bases in 12 attempts and a .335 on-base/.382 slugging percentage. Follow his progress here.

Steiger just started his pro career, signing a free-agent deal with the Yankees this summer. He was playing for the Seattle Studs at the time, but decided to skip his senior season at Lewis-Clark State to play professionally. The third baseman/first baseman/DH, a South Kitsap grad, was 1-for-5 with a single in his July 3 debut, and he is playing as I type this right now. He struck out in his first at bat Friday against the Pirates. Follow his progress here. 

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