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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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Baseball, father-sons & other Thursday stuff

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Attended the Mariners’ home opener on Tuesday with my dad and son. Something about baseball and dads and sons that’s special. Mix in my best friend, who is like a brother to me, another son to my dad and another dad to my son and it was a really special day.

But back to that original thought about baseball and dads and sons. Baseball’s different than any other sport and it all starts, I think, with playing catch.  No words are necessary. There’s just something magical about it and the sound of the ball popping in the leather glove.

My dad, now 89, would probably have a tough time playing catch today, mostly because he blew out his arm while throwing so much batting practice pitches to me and my friends while growing up.

Some quick thoughts on the Mariners:

You can’t help but be impressed with the easy-going, relaxed way Robinson Cano plays the game. He oozes confidence and that’s going to rub off on some of his teammates. I think it already has.

It’s so early, but manager Lloyd McClendon seems to be making all of the right moves. We’ll see, but he seems to have a good eye for talent. I like that he settled on Abraham Almonte as his center fielder and leadoff hitter early on. I rolled my eyes at first when he handed the first base job to Justin Smoak, but it retrospect that was a good, confidence-building move. If guys don’t produce, I think McClendon has a deep enough bench and enough talent at Tacoma — Nick Franklin, Endy Chavez, Cole Gillespie — that he won’t hesitate to make a move. He’s already rotating Michael Saunders, Logan Morrison and Stefen Romero in right field.

I was the guy who predicted the M’s would win the AL West. That was mostly predicated on the rest of the division slipping back some, and the M’s strong starting pitching. If it stays healthy, I think Seattle stays in the race all the way. James Paxton’s visit to the DL for a strained lat doesn’t seem serious, but he’s a key element to the rotation. I think the big lefty is just as good as Taijuan Walker, who is working his way back from injury, as is Hisashi Iwakuma. If they stay healthy, I’m sticking to my pick.

Corey Hart gave us a glimpse of what he could do for the M’s on Tuesday. I wasn’t impressed with his first two swings as he fell in an 0-2 hole against Angels starter Hector Santiago. I turned to my son and said, “Is this guy going to be the next Richie Sexson?” A couple seconds later he Hart crushed a pitch for a three-run moonshot home run to left. He lined a ball over the dead center-field fence for a homer in his next at bat. It got out about thisquick. If he stays healthy, Hart could be a steal at $6 million plus incentives.

One more M’s thought: Felix Hernandez is among a lot of MLB players who wear their baseball hats a little crooked, but new closer Fernando Rodney takes that look to a new level. His hat is practically sideways. How does it stay on his head?

More stuff

South Kitsap grad and Chicago Cubs’ starter Jason Hammel got his second win and had a little fun with first baseman Anthony Rizzo after the game.

North Mason grad and Central Washington infielder Kasey Bielec is third in batting (.398) in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Bielec, a junior, has five home runs and 28 RBI for the Wildcats (18-13, 11-9 GNAC). He was 4-for-6 on Sunday in a split with Western Oregon.

North Kitsap grad and former Kitsap BlueJacket Dan Jewitt of the Omaha Mavericks was the Summit League Player of the Week last week. The junior outfielder hit .526 (10-for-19) with six RBI and two doubles. Jewitt’s hitting a team-high .400 for the Mavericks (14-12, 3-3 Summit), starting 15 of the 18 games he’s played.

Drew Vettleson’s still looking for his first hit at Double-A Harrisburg. The Senators outfielder is hitless in 16 at bats. The former Central Kitsap star  was traded to the Washington Nationals by the Tampa Bay Rays organization prior to the start of spring training.

Jason Day and Steve Stricker. If I was in a Masters’ pool, I wish I had one of those guys. Wonder how long Fred Couples will contend? You know he will. He’s always on the top of the leaderboard for a couple days, then he fades. Maybe this is the year he hangs tough?

Richard Sherman’s second annual celebrity softball game will be July 20 at Safeco Field. More information here.

Don’t forget, Willie Bloomquist and Bree Schaaf will be at Port Orchard’s McCormick Woods on Thursday night, helping the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable raise money for the Elton Goodwin scoreboard and Elton Goodwin Foundation. Starts at 6 p.m. Everyone’s welcome. Lots of silent auction items available: Robinson Cano signed jersey and bat, Felix Hernandez signed jersey and ball, Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners tickets etc…


Tuesday ramblings and notes: Heathcote, Hammel, TyBaum, Erynne/earthquake & more

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE champion Wichita State enters the NCAA Tournament unbeaten and seeded No. 1 in the Midwest region. The last time a Missouri Valley Conference team entered the tournament unbeaten was 1979, when Larry Bird and Indiana State was grabbing all of the headlines in March.  The No. 1-ranked Sycamores didn’t come away with the title, though.

“Somebody beat them in that championship game,” said Jud Heathcote during a conversation Monday. “It’s been so long, I can’t remember who is was.”

The 86-year-old Heathcote was joking. The South Kitsap grad who grew up in Manchester was the coach of the Michigan State Spartans that year. The Spartans, with a gangly point-guard named Magic Johnson, beat Bird and the Sycamores in the most-watched game in college basketball history.

Heathcote, who lives in Spokane and has season tickets to Gonzaga games, will be in the stands this week when Michigan State plays its first-r0und East regional game on Thursday. Sparty faces Delaware at Veteran Memorial Arena in Spokane. My weekly Thursday column will center on Heathcote, who is still funny as ever and still consumed by the college game.

JASON HAMMEL OF THE CHICAGO CUBS starts Tuesday night in Surprise, Ariz., against the Texas Rangers. It’ll be just his second Cactus League start, but the right-hander out of South Kitsap High hasn’t been inactive. He’s started a “B” game and went six innings last Thursday against Cubs minor leaguers.

“My first year with the (Orioles), because Florida Spring Training is all (American League) East, I didn’t pitch in a big league game until we’d been through two or three rounds of cuts,” Hammel told MLB.com.  ”As long as I can get my work in and make sure I’m building the arm strength, I’m OK.”

WAS HOPING ONE-TIME Olympic College basketball coach Ken Bone would get over the hump at Washington State, but too many injuries and lack of depth were his undoing. Seattle U might be a good fit for Bone if Cameron Dollar gets the axe, and it’s been suggested that he might. A lot of people forget that Bone was 77-49 in four years at Portland State, taking the Vikings to the NCAA Tournament his last two years. Bone was 254-97 in 12 years at Seattle Pacific.

Also

Glad to see I didn’t jinx Tyler Baumgartner with this column. The Central Kitsap grad, a senior outfielder at Oregon, was 5-for-11 in a three-game series against USC. Baumgartner was 2-for-5 with a bases-clearing double in a 7-2 series-clinching win on Sunday. He’s now hitting .400 through 19 games. …. Former North Kitsap  and Washington State athlete and ex-professional baseball player Jared Prince is an assistant with the South Kitsap baseball team. Prince, who is living in Tacoma and working toward his masters in education at the University of Puget Sound, was also an assistant with SK’s football team. He’s doing his student teaching at South. … Bremerton’s Marvin Williams has missed 12 NBA games this season because of various injuries. The Utah Jazz are 0-12 in those games. His numbers (9.5 points, 5.1  rebounds) aren’t eye-popping, but the 27-year-old forward has become a solid all-around player and leader for the young Jazz.  … I was always impressed with Denise Baxter, who announced that she is retiring at Central Kitsap as the girls basketball coach. Her teams always played hard and she had a no-nonsense approach and she didn’t seem to let those bothersome parents (you know the ones) get in her head. Central Kitsap’s lucky to have had her around for 20 years.  … Bremerton High grad Jack Evans passed away recently in California. Evans was a member of the 1953 Bremerton High baseball team thet was inducted into the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame. … Former Kitsap Pumas goalkeeper Liviu Bird is now writing about soccer for SI.com, among other outlets. Here’s  his story on the Toronto FC after the 2-1 win over the Sounders. … Central Kitsap grad Troy Kelly plays in the Web.com Tour’s Panama Claro Championship in Panama City this week. After a tie for 23rd in Chile, he missed the cut by two strokes in Brazil last week. He plays in the Louisiana Open in Broussard, La., next week, then returns to the PGA Tour, teeing it up in the Houston Open, April 3-6. … Central Kitsap alum Drew Vettleson got a couple more at bats in a Grapefruit League game for the Washington Nationals. He’s 0-for-3 in two appearances with the big club this spring. … UCLA junior golfer Erynne Lee, a Central Kitsap grad who was picked to play in the Curtis Cup, tweeted this from Los Angeles on Monday:  ”Woke up from a nightmare by an earthquake just now. #frazzled #homesick” … Keep your eye on Ben Tamm, hard-throwing  freshman pitcher at Everet CC. The North Kitsap grad was named MVP of fall ball and has got off to a good start for the Trojans.


Wet stuff drives you crazy & links on Hammel, Willie B., T. Kelly & RV2

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Spent about nine hours on the road and at the ballpark today, and what did we have to show for it?

Nothing. Such is life if you’re part of a softball or baseball team that’s trying to get in some games in the Northwest. Mother Nature comes out on top a lot and it prevailed once again.

After warming up in the rain for 90 minutes at Lacey’s Regional Athletic Complex (known as The RAC), games were cancelled and the Olympic College softball team headed to a nearby restaurant for dinner, then a drive home in the driving rain. In case you’re wondering, I’m a volunteer assistant.

It’s now closing in on 9:30 p.m. I’m home. It’s still raining and I’m watching Washington State school UCLA in basketball, and wondering if it would be better to just go to bed. We lose an hour of sleep tonight, and the vans leave at 8:30 a.m. for another trip to Lacey, where the artificial turf could be playable. Or maybe not.

In the meantime, here’s some links:

Jason Hammel pitches three shutout innings for  the Cubs in his first official spring game of the season. The South Kitsap grad walked three batters in the first inning, but got out of the jam. Afterwards, he said he might have been a bit nervous.

Willie Bloomquist, who delivered an RBI single on Saturday,  says he’s happy to be a Mariner. ”Who gets to put a uniform on twice and play in your hometown?” he told Greg Johns of MLB.com.

Troy Kelly had an eagle on the par-5 14th hole and shot 2-under 70 in the third round of the Chile Classic at Santiago, Chile. The 35-year-old Central Kitsap grad is 7-under for the tournament and tied for 25th heading into Sunday’s final round of the Web-com Tour stop. He’s six strokes off the lead. Tacoma’s Andrew Putman is tied for seventh after a 4-under 68. He’s at 206 for three rounds. Putman was second in the Web.com’s season opener at Puerto Rico. His bother, Michael Putnam, was the Web.com’s Player of the Year in 2013. Ex-Husky and Canadian Nick Taylor is tied for 50th after carding a 70 on Saturday.

Supercross champ Ryan Villopoto ended his five-race winless streak with a wire-to-wire win at Daytona. The Poulsbo rider with the RV2 moniker grabbed the lead at the start and won by over 12 seconds despite a fall. “So pumped to get the win tonight! This one felt good!” he tweeted.

 


Monday links: Cunningham, Hammel, Vettleson, Bloomquist

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Catching up with some of Kitsap’s baseball pros:

South Kitsap grad Aaron Cunningham, a non-roster invitee with the Chicago Cubs, is selling socks in his spare time. Yes, S-O-C-K-S. Read all about it right here. 

Central Kitsap grad Drew Vettleson is liking the advanced camp he’s participating in with the Washington Nationals. Freelancer David Driver writes about Vettleson for the Kitsap Sun.

Hammel, another South Kitsap grad, is in camp with the Chicago Cubs. He and Cunningham could be teammates, although Cunningham will need a big spring. Hammel pitched two innings in a spring training ‘B’ game on Monday and told reporters, “I like to prove people wrong.”

South Kitsap grad Willie Bloomquist flashed some leather at third base on Friday, making a couple of fine defensive plays and GM Jack Zduriencik said Bloomquist will be the Seattle Mariners’ utility guy. Brad Miller or Nick Franklin will win the starting shortstop position and the other, barring a trade, will wind up at Triple-A Tacoma. And in case you missed it, Bloomquist collected on a  Super Bowl bet with Cleveland’s David Aardsma.

Bloomquist will also be the headliner at an April 10 Kitsap Athletic Roundtable meeting at McCormick Woods Golf Course in Port Orchard. The event will raise money for a scoreboard that will be placed at Elton Goodwin Field at South Kitsap High School. The SK school board has agreed to name the field after the late, great high school coach. More info on the KAR meeting will be released later this month.

 


Hammel linked to Cubs, Royals, Pirates and Braves

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Jason Hammel, the free-agent pitcher from South Kitsap, is reportedly seeking a three- or four-year deal. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Cubs, Royals, Pirates and Braves are all interested in the right-hander who spent the last two seasons with Baltimore.

Here’s an MLB.com report that says the Colorado Rockies are interested in bringing Hammel back. He pitched with the Rockies from 2009-2001.

 


Quick hits: OC volleyball advances to semis, Kitsap pros, Bree, Kellys, UW, Hawks & more

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Some links and Friday thoughts:

Moving on: Olympic College’s historic volleyball season continues. The Rangers (43-4) beat Tacoma 3-1 at the NWAACC Championships earlier Friday and takes on host Mount Hood Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the semifinals. The match will be streamed live here. Blue Mountain and Highline are in the other semifinal in the double-elimination tournament. OC lost its first set, but roared back to win the next three against Tacoma, a team it beat six straight times during the regular season. Winner’s bracket finals are Saturday at 1:30 p.m. with the championship match Sunday at 3 p.m. All tournament games are being live streamed.

Fantasy time: It’s that time of year when baseball fans can starting dreaming about signing free agents and making trades to help their teams. If you’re a Seattle Mariners fan, wouldn’t it be cool if they could figure out a way to start the 2014 season with Jacob Ellsbury in center field and Sin-Shoo Choo in left and have them hit 1-2 in the order.

Ah, the Huskies: Washington’s 6-4 and the thought of a another 7-6 season has Husky fans howling to the moon. There’s even an @fireSark twitter account out there. That’s a little harsh. Washington’s continuing road struggles and and inability to beat good teams is frustrating. The move to the hurry-up spread offense seemed like a good move at the time, and it still does, but maybe we should have realized that it wasn’t going to be an overnight success. Sark and his staff had been recruiting linemen to play power football for four years, and now they need quick, athletic guys up front to make it work.

And Washington’s lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball has been glaring. When you’re running the quick-strike offense, your defense is going to be on the field a lot, and this Husky defense, as promising as it looked early on, has been very average of late. They’ve not been able to recruit a true pass rusher, an NFL-type defensive end and that has been a problem.

That said, the biggest reason for Washington’s mediocrity is their lack of discipline. The Huskies are the most penalized team in the country and Sarkisian’s teams are among the most penalized in Husky history. Take a look at this report by Steve Rudman of sportspressnw.com. The numbers don’t lie.

As disappointing as this season has been to date, Washington could still finish 9-4 by winning out and 9-4 is pretty good. If that’s how it plays out — Washington beats Oregon State (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2) on the road, beats Washington State at home (Friday, Nov. 27, 12:30 p.m., FOX) and wins  a bowl game — everybody should be happy.

Seahawks-Saints: Everybody is looking forward to the Nov. 30 MNF showdown at the Clink. The Seahawks (9-1) have a bye this week and the Saints (8-2) are coming off of a rather ho-hum 17-13 win at Atlanta. Seattle won at Atlanta, 33-10, dominating the Falcons in every part of the game. Drew Brees will be a challenge, and the Saints defense is one of the league’s best, but Seattle has been playing at another level the past two weeks. I don’t see any kind of a letdown coming for this, not on a Monday night with the nation watching. I’m looking forward to the matchup between New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and Seahawks’ safety Cam Chancellor.

Still sliding: Bremerton’s Bree Schaaf won a bronze medal at the North American Cup races in Calgary last weekend, and is competing at Park City, Utah, this weekend. Schaaf finished fifth at the 2010 Winter Olympics and after a year of rehabilitation following hip surgery, she   was fourth at the national selection races last month. Only the top three were picked to compete int he World Cup. The 2014 Olympic team will be announced on Jan. 19 and points collected in international competitions will play a role when the team is named.

“I of course planned on making the national team so it was a bit of a shock and a scramble to make self-funded North American Cup happen,” Schaaf said. “Despite the Games being a long shot now, I found support in a wonderful company out of Denver called Crescent Point. It was truly heartwarming that despite my candor regarding Olympic qualification chances that a company would still have faith and support me like this.”

Schaaf teamed with Tracey Stewart last week.

“This has been a North American Cup like no other,” Schaaf said. “We were fully staffed and felt fortunate to have such incredible coaches along with a team manager and sled tech. Special thanks to Tracey for pushing me and keeping the dream alive.”

Update: Schaaf finished fourth in today’s first race, behind two Americans (No. 1 Elana Meyers and No. 2 Jamie Gruebel but ahead of USA No. 3 driver Jazmine Fenalator, who was eighth). The second race is coming up and will be live streamed.

Kelly green scene: Congratulations are in order for Bob Kelly, father of pro golfer Troy Kelly. Bob recently beat his age, shooting a 66  at Meadowpark Golf Course in Tacoma. One of his other sons, Ryan, also had a hole-in-one at the West Richland Golf Course while winning his amateur division of the Tri-City Budweiser Open in Richland. As for Troy, he plans to play in five Web.com tournaments next year and he’s also exempt for 14 PGA Tour events. Kelly’s 2013 season was cut short because of knee surgery.

Baseball musings: Kansas City’s signing of Jason Vargas (4 years, $32 million) could be a good thing for free agent pitcher Jason Hammel. The Giants reportedly have interest in signing the 6-foot-6 right-hander, a South Kitsap grad. … Willie Bloomquist’s name has been thrown around as a possible utility infielder for the Reds, Red Sox and Dodgers. The free agent from Port Orchard would prefer to re-sign with Arizona, but sounds like that might he a long shot. Last time around the free agency trail, Bloomquist turned down more money from the Giants to sign with the Diamondbacks. … Bloomquist and Jason Ellison were among those attending the memorial service for their ex-high school coach, Elton Goodwin, last weekend. … In case you missed it, another former South Kitsap star, Aaron Cunningham, signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs. Did you know that Cunningham once sold his car to rapper Ice T? Yeah, for real. … Drew Vettleson, the former Central Kitsap star, is a No. 5 pick in this faketeams.com. fantasy draft. Check it out for their opinion about Vettleson’s upside. They project the left-handed hitting outfielder to be an above average player at the MLB level, hitting .280 with 20 home-run power during his peak years. Vettleson will likely start the 2014 season at Double-A. ... Brady Steiger, a South Kitsap grad and former Lewis-Clark State star who signed with the New York Yankees last summer, is available for private hitting lessons at the West Hills Vipers facility.

 

 

 


SK grads Bloomquist, Hammel are free agents

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Baseball’s free agency period is officially upon us, and a couple of South Kitsap graduates — Willie Bloomquist and Jason Hammel — are among the players available.

Bloomquist has made no secret that he would prefer to remain with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he turns 36 later this month and he spent a lot of time on the disabled list this past season. Injuries aside, he’s had his two best offensive seasons in 2012 and 2013, and he can play anywhere. He signed a two-year, $3.8 million deal with the D’backs the last time around. Will he get an offer, or as this story suggests: Willie stay or Willie go? The Diamondbacks have plenty of depth at shortstop, with veteran Cliff Pennington signed for next year and prospects Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings under  club control. But  Bloomquist is the ideal utility guy and he hits lefties (he has a career OPS — on base-plus percentage and slugging average — of .708). And he’s beloved in the desert, where he was recently inducted into the Arizona State Hall of Fame.

Hammel, a right-handed pitcher, made $6.75 million and was the Orioles’ Opening Day starter in 2013. He was 7-2 at one point, but that was mostly because of some excellent offensive support. He never seemed right and eventually wound up on the disabled list with a strained foreman. He came back late in the season, pitching out of the bullpen, and had some success. Hammel was really good during the first half of 2012 before requiring knee surgery. Former Baltimore ace Jim Palmer thinks Hammel’s worth a one-year, $8 million deal. Some have suggested that he might be the kind of veteran pitcher that would fit in as the No. 4 starter with the Mariners. We’ll see.


Predictions, links and other stuff: Ripken, Marvin, Snake, Mongoose, Willie B. …

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

* UW prediction: Sorry Washington Huskies, gotta go with Stanford. It’ll be close: 31-30.

* Seahawks prediction: Colts are dangerous, but Seahawks have DangerRuss and the best defense in the NFL: Seattle 27, Indianapolis 18.

* Watching the Cal-Washington State football game reminds me that Ripken Reyes (great name, huh?) has verbally committed to play baseball at Cal. Yes, he’s a shortstop.

Ripken is a junior at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif. He’s the son of Paul and Heidi (Westhoff) Reyes. Paul was a quarterback/shortstop at Olympic High who played college baseball at Spokane CC and Whitworth. He developed into one of the top hitters in men’s fastpitch, playing in Tacoma and Bremerton, and later in California. Heidi graduated from Central Kitsap (not Bremerton, as I posted on Twitter). Bremerton’s Pat Westhoff, who played and managed fastpitch, is Ripken’s proud grandfather.

* Watching the Cal-Washington State game also reminds me of what a great venue California Memorial Stadium is. It has some of the best views in college football, BUT IT’S NEVER FULL! So many empty seats.

* The Utah Jazz are “taking a cautious” approach with Bremerton’s Marvin Williams, who had offseason surgery on his heel and Achilles tendon. Hard to believe Williams, 27, is beginning his ninth season in the NBA. Seems like yesterday I was listening to him explain why he decided to go to Bremerton High to play with his buddies instead of riding the ferry daily to play at O’Dea, which arguably boasted the top program in the state at the time.

* I was just told that former Kitsap Bremerton Sun sports editor Joe Sherk of Port Orchard (yeah, he’s even older than me) has a credit in the movie: Snake & Mongoose that was just released. Sherk was one of the top motorsports writers around and eventually left the newspaper business to become a publicist. You still see his byline occasionally in The Sun. The movie is based on the rivalry between NHRA drivers Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen.

* Here’s a book I can’t wait to read: “Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile,” by Nate Jackson.

* Freshman Becca Schoales is off to a pretty good start at Washington. The South Kitsap grad has started eight of 11 games and scored three goals for the UW’s women’s soccer team. Freshman Paige Serwold, a Central Kitsap grad, has played in four games for the Huskies.

Port Orchard’s Willie Bloomquist ended up with a .319 batting average in the 47 games he played for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Willie is a free agent, and the Diamondbacks are loaded at shortstop with young prospects. Plus Willie has had some injury issues. Will Arizona bring him back as a utility guy? I think they will.

* Another South Kitsap grad, pitcher Jason Hammel, is also a free agent. Hammel (7-8, 4.97 ERA) was Baltimore’s Opening Day pitcher, but he struggled at times and found himself on the disabled list in July with arm problems.  Will the Orioles try to keep him? Doubtful, but he’ll catch on somewhere. He can be a fourth or fifth starter and he’s shown that he can pitch out of the bullpen, too.

* Oct. 25: North Kitsap vs. Kingston. If you’re a high school football fan and you’re going to go to one game this year, that’s the one. The rivals are unbeaten in Olympic League play and should still be unbeaten when they meet.

* The Olympic College volleyball team lost to Bellevue but is still ranked ahead of the Bulldogs in the latest NWAACC poll. Blue Mountain is No. 1, OC No. 2 and Bellevue No. 3. The Rangers only have five more home matches, including a Wednesday date with Skagit Valley. Check ‘em out. Coach Beth Donnelly has OC playing at a really high level.

 

 


Links and thoughts on Ryan Kelly, Dawgs, Hawks, preps & updates on Kitsap baseball players

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Bremerton’s Ryan Kelly found himself without a job when his brother — PGA Tour player Troy Kelly — had season-ending knee surgery earlier in the season.

Ryan, who caddied for his younger brother, returned to the Bremerton/Tacoma area and wound up playing in a lot of  the region’s top amateur tournaments. He’s won the Fircrest Amateur in Tacoma the weekend before last.

Here’s the story by Todd Milles of the Tacoma News Tribune.

Ryan played golf at Oregon State and played professionally for a while, but his career was stymied by a back injury. He regained his amateur status a few years ago.

The Huskies

Here’s some best-case, worst-case scenarios for the Huskies from Pac-12 football blogger Ted Miller at ESPN.com. Pretty funny stuff.

If his broken finger is OK, will Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins play against Boise State on Saturday? He ASJ was arrested (DUI) during the offseason, and coach Steve Sarkisian suspended him for spring football, but let him back for fall ball. Should Sark suspend him for the Boise State game? I think that’s the right thing to do, but I don’t think he will. A one-game suspension sends the right message and is more important than getting a win, not that the Huskies can’t win without ASJ. Michael Hartvigson is a quality backup.

Unranked Washington is a 3.5-point favorite to beat No. 19 Boise State, mostly because they’ll be playing at home in front of a fired-up crowd at remodeled Husky Stadium. The game should go down to the wire, just as it did during the Las Vegas Bowl when the Broncos held on for a 28-26 win. Boise State was a 4.5-point underdog in that game. I think this is truly a tossup game. If Washington wins, it’ll be a great start to their season. If the Huskies lose, die-hard fans shouldn’t lose a lot of sleep over it because Boise will likely be as good as anybody Washington plays outside of Oregon and Stanford.

The Seahawks

Richard Sherman’s been pretty quiet of late. By design perhaps? Still waiting for his second column for SI.com’s MMQB. If you missed his first one, here it is.

Sherman and the Seahawks’ defense are getting their due, however. This story in SI.com rates Seattle’s ‘D’ as the best in the NFL.

Don’t know if there’s a team in the NFL with a better situation at running back than the Seahawks. All-Pro Marshawn Lynch, second-year backup Robert Turbin, and rookie Christine Michael, first-team All-Preseason, give the Hawks some serious giddy-up in the backfield. Lynch has run for 2,794 yards and 23 touchdowns his last two seasons with the Seahawks. He’s also caught 53 passes in that time. Lynch is 27 and pretty durable. Does he have three more All-Pro quality seasons left? If he does, and the Seahawks can win a Super Bowl or at least get to one, will Lynch have done enough to warrant Hall of Fame consideration? He’d be around 10,000 yards with 75-80 touchdowns. Here’s a look at the career NFL rushing leaders (Hall of Fames are noted).

The NFL

It’s Tuel Time in Buffalo. Yep, Jeff Tuel, free-agent quarterback from Washington State, is going to start Week 1 for the Bills against the New England Patriots. Can you name the other WSU quarterback who made it to the NFL? Give up? In alphabetical order: Drew Bledsoe, Alex Brink, Ryan Leaf, Timm Rosenbach and Mark Rypien.

Preps

According to the Spokesman Review, Boise State and Mississippi State are among the colleges that have already offered scholarships to quarterback Brett Rypien of Shadle Park High School in Spokane. Rypien’s coming off a record-breaking sophomore year in which he threw for  3,179 yards in nine games, completing 62.5 percent of his passes. He’s also had offers from Washington State, Idaho and Colorado State. His uncle is Mark Rypien, also a Shadle Park grad and a former WSU star who was a Super Bowl MVP during his career with the Washington Redskins.

Here’s a list of offers and commits from football players in the state of Washington who are in the class of 2014.

Baseball

Oregon senior-to-be Tyler Baumgartner, the former Central Kitsap star, hit .402 in eight games for NWAACC USA at the World Baseball Challenge at Prince George, British Columbia. Baumgartner, an outfielder, had two hits in the bronze medal game, won 9-7 by NWAACC USA over Chinese Taipei. The team was comprised of current and former NWAACC players.

Baumgartner’s cousin, Drew Vettleson, a third-year pro with the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Rays), had a four-hit game (4-for-6 with a double, RBI and two runs scored) on Aug. 25 against Jupiter, Fla., in the Advanced Class A Florida State League. Vettleson’s had some clutch hits lately, including a game-winning RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a game last week. He’s hitting .283 (.340 on-base, .397 slugging percentage) with five triples, four home runs and 61 RBI.

Aaron Cunningham of the Triple-A Round Rock Express (Rangers) was 3-for-5 with two homers, five RBI and four runs scored on Aug. 21 at Nashville. Cunningham, an SK grad who was drafted following his freshman year at Everett CC, has hit .389 with three homers over his last 10 games. The outfielder has had five multi-hit games in that stretch. He’s hitting .255 with 10 homers and 48 RBI. He’s got a .338 on-base percentage, .415 slugging percentage.

South Kitsap grad and former Lewis-Clark State star Brady Steiger is hitting .245 for the Gulf Coast Yankees, a rookie-league team, but he has an impressive .420 on-base percentage after 16 games and 53 at bats. He’s walked 12 times.

South Kitsap grads Willie Bloomquist (Diamondbacks) and Jason Hammel (Orioles) remain on the DL, but are close to returning. Hammel’s scheduled to pitch in a Double-A game on Thursday. He went on the DL with tightness in his forearm. Bloomquist, an infielder who’s been out with a hand injury, could be back on the big-league roster this week. He’s been playing rehab games with Arizona’s team in the Arizona rookie league.


Kitsapers in the pros: DL comes calling; Vettleson’s average on the rise

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

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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