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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…


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.

 


Super Bowl plans? Sherman rates NFL’s QBs & more

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Made plans this week to go to Las Vegas for Super Bowl weekend.

Now, if the Seahawks can only take care of business and make it to the big game. Here’s a guide to Super Bowl parties in Las Vegas. Got any recommendations on where I should I belly-up for the game? Where will you watch the game from?

SB prediction: My preseason prediction had the Seattle Seahawks beating the Houston Texans in East Rutherford, N.J. The Texans disintegrated after losing in overtime, 23-20, to the Seahawks in Week 4.

New Super Bowl prediction: Seahawks 27, Patriots 16.

Speaking of the Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady didn’t make Richard Sherman’s list of top-5 smartest quarterbacks in the NFL. In his MMQB column for SI.com, Sherman listed (in order): Peyton Manning, Drew Brews, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck.

More NFL predictions: If I was betting a three-team parlay this weekend in Vegas, I’d take the Chargers, Eagles and 49ers. If you wanted to make it a four-team parlay, throw in the Chiefs.

If I’m right, that also means that the Seahawks will face the 49ers on Saturday, Jan. 11, at CenturyLink. Seattle gets the lowest remaining seed and it’ll be the Packers (No. 4), 49ers (No. 5) or Saints (No. 6). A Niners-Seahawks rematch for the right to move on to the NFC Championship game could be better than the Super Bowl. These guys don’t like each other, and there’s a lot of similarities between the two NFC West rivals.

UPDATE: Of course, I meant to say I’d take the Chargers, Saints and 49ers for that three-team parley. And the Colts, not Chiefs, for the 4-teamer.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Seahawks favored by 8 points to beat the Saints. It was 5 1/2 the last time when Seattle won 34-7.

Some thoughts

Bainbridge’s Scott Orness keeps showing why he’s one of the best high school basketball coaches in the state. His Spartans, with just one senior, rebounded from a 16-1 deficit to give unbeaten and nationally-ranked Rainier Beach a pretty good battle on Friday.

I was surprised former Husky great Marques Tuiasosopo left Washington to become the tight ends coach at USC. He was offered the same position by new Husky coach Chris Petersen. It was later reported that Steve Sarkisian also gave Tuiasosopo the title of assistant head coach. Maybe there’s enough additional responsibility there to make it a no-brainer for Tui, but I think his decision caught a lot of Washington Husky fans off-guard. Getting Tui was a big get for Sark, and a loss for Petersen, who brought six assistants with him from Boise State and two more former Boise coaches who were at Florida.

The Kitsap Admirals are hosting the ABA All-Star game on Sunday (Jan. 5) at 3 p.m. at Olympic College. There will be a dunk contest and more. Could be a fun afternoon. Wonder if Dr. J,  George Gervin, David Thompson, and Artis Gilmore will show up?

I think the Seattle Mariners should sign Brady Sizemore to a minor-league contract. The Everett native has been out of baseball since 2011 because of a long list of injuries. But he’s only 31. He was arguably one of the top two or three center fielders in baseball from 2005-08, hitting .281 with 107 home runs and 115 stolen bases. Why not bring him in and let him compete against Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Abraham Almonte and oft-injured Franklin Gutierrez? Corey Hart and  Logan Morrison are listed as infielders on the 40-man roster, and will likely play some OF, 1B and DH.

 


Kitna’s gift; Edgar for HOF? Tanaka a good fit for Mariners? Knights ranked No. 9

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Coolest story of the week: Lincoln High football coach and match teacher Jon Kitna, 41, signing with the Dallas Cowboys to be a backup quarterback. Wait, it gets better. It’s been reported that the Tacoma native is donating the $53,000 he earns this week to Lincoln High, his old school. His generosity probably doesn’t surprise those who know him. Kitna’s goal when he accepted the football job at Lincoln was to build “R.E.A.L. Men” who (R)eject passivity, (E)mpathize with others, (A)ccept responsibility and (L)ead courageously.

The case for and against Edgar Martinez when it comes to deciding if he’s a Hall of Famer or not. Since the DH has been part of the game for 30 years, it seems silly to me for voters to punish a player because he was a DH. And you can make a pretty good argument that Edgar’s the best DH in the history of the sport. What do you think?

Scott Weber of Looking Landing has some good thoughts on Masahiro Tanaka and why the Mariners would be better off spending big bucks to land the Japanese pitcher than on an outfielder like Nelson Cruz. You have to admit, a starting rotation of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Tanaka, Taijuan Walker and Erasmo Ramirez or James Paxton looks pretty good on paper.

And Fangraphs.com has come up with some projections for the 2014 Seattle Mariners.

Recommended reading: Michael Bramberger of Sports Illustrated wrote a  pretty thought-provoking column about Tiger Woods in November. It all revovled around former Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee writing a piece where he questioned Tiger for being “a little cavalier with the rules.”

Tickets for the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame banquet on Jan. 25 are on sale. They cost $30, not $35 as I wrote in a previous post. Sorry about that.

Bremerton High has cracked the Seattle Times’ Class 2A boys basketball top-10 rankings. The Knights (6-0) are No. 9 this week. I watched the Knights beat Port Angeles before Christmas (look for my story on senior Deonti Dixon on Friday) and this could be a special season if they keep improving. Fundamentally, they’ve got a ways to go on defense, but their quickness makes up for a lot of that.  Keep your eye on these guys. The Associated Press state rankings should be out after the first of the year.

Steve Sarkisian talks about why he left Washington and about winning a national championship at USC.

Don’t know how I missed this one, but I’ve got to share it. You’re a mean one, Marshawn Lynch. This is Dave Ross’ musical tribute to the Seahawks’ running back.

Are you having a tough time getting excited about the Washington Huskies and the Fight Hunger Bowl? Me too.  With the coaching change and the Tosh Lupoi situation and the UW losing out on prize recruit Budda Baker, the bowl game itself seems pretty meaningless. It’ll be interesting to see how Marques Tuiasosopo does as an interim head coach — you can’t help but pull for that guy — and the possibility of a nine-win season, I guess, is a big deal. But the opponent, BYU, doesn’t do it for me. The UW and Cougars, now an independent,  have never met in a bowl game, but they’ve played eight times, six since 1996 (the series is tied 4-4) with BYU winning the last three, including a 23-17 victory the last time the met in 2010.

 


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.

 

 

 


Mariners: Bremertonian designs ‘Game of Throws’ giveaway T-shirt

Monday, July 8th, 2013

The Game of Throws T-shirt designed by Bremerton’s Eric Wahlquist was voted the winner of a Mariners’ contest. The first 5,000 fans to Tuesday’s game against Boston receives one.

Seattle All-Star pitchers Felix Hernandez and Hiashi Iwakuma are featured on the T-shirt. Ten were for sale on Ebay ($14.99 each). Oops, only eight are left.

All Stars: Puig? Ibanez? Why not?

There’s been a lot of debating about whether Yasiel Puig, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ wonder kid, belongs in the All-Star game. The fans didn’t vote the outfielder in as a starter, and he didn’t make it as a sub either, but he’s on the list of five NL players competing in the “Final Vote” for the last berth on the team. He should easily win. Who doesn’t want to see this kid from Cuba who hit .436 with 44 hits and and a .713 slugging percentage in his first month? Dude’s 22. Send him to New York and give him an at-bat.

What’s Yasiel Puig have to do with the Mariners? Northing, except the M’s have a 41-year-old dude who has that little white baseball looking like a watermelon right now when he takes a swing at it. You might have heard of him. Raaauuuuuuuul Ibanez. You could argue that he was just as hot as Puig during the month of June. Ibanez had 10 HRs and 22 RBIs last month. Those are Barry Bonds-like numbers. OK, his average isn’t great (.257 through Sunday), but after hitting another home run on Monday, he’s up to 22 bombs (5th in the AL) and 51 RBIs. He’s had eight home runs in his last 12 games. He’s had at least one hit in all 12 of those games. Send Raul to New York and give him an at-bat, too. If Puig belongs, Raul certainly measures up.

Just the numbers

Prior to Monday’s game against Boston, Seattle ranked 6th in the majors in home runs with 104, but only 28th out of 30 teams in runs scored (325). Last time I looked, scoring runs is the stat that really matters. Miami (284) and the Chicago White Sox (314) rank No. 30 and No. 29 in runs scored.

St. Louis (22) and Arizona (28) are the only teams with fewer stolen bases than the Mariners (30).

Seattle was hitting .235, ahead of only Houston (.234), NY Mets (.234) and Miami (.231).

Kyle Seager leads the M’s with a .286 average, which ranks No. 52 in the league. Kendrys Morales ranks No. 65 and is hitting .272 (remember, this was through Sunday). Nick Franklin (.284) didn’t have enough at-bats yet to qualify.

What’s it all mean? The M’s are too dependent on the long ball, but they’ve been better over the last month. In the last 30 games, the M’s have four of the top-100 average hitters in baseball: No. 60 Ibanez (287, 11 homers), No. 75 Franklin (.277, 7 homers), No. 84 Endy Chavez (.275) and No. 90 Seager (.269, 5 homers). Not earth-shaking numbers, but at least the M’s aren’t relying on Seager and Morales and the incredibly-hot Ibanez to carry the load. And Justin Smoak’s starting to do his part, which shouldn’t be overlooked. Smoak’s production could be key going forward for this franchise.

With the arrival of Franklin, shortstop Brad Miller and catcher Mike Zunino, the product on the field is at least more entertaining than the one the club was running out there earlier. And now that they’ve won five of seven against the Rangers, Reds and the AL-best Red Sox, there might be reason to believe that the Mariners just might … ah, never mind. I’m not even going there.

 


Local players have big impact on BlueJackets’ victory & more stuff

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

It was nice to see the Kitsap BlueJackets get off the snide on Friday. They broke a seven-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Corvallis Knights in front of the home fans and local players had a lot to do with it.

In the top of the ninth, with the scored tied 1-1, Corvallis had a runner on first with two out when Cody Lenahan doubled to left-center. I was standing down the left-field line and it looked like the Corvallis runner was going to score from first, but Kitsap center fielder Dan Jewett, a North Kitsap grad who is playing at Nebraska Omaha, cut the ball off and wheeled and made a strong, quick, low throw. First baseman Daniel Orr, a Kingston grad who was instrumental in helping Everett CC win an NWAACC Championship this year, field the throw on a hop between third base and the pitching mound and in one motion turned and threw to catcher alex McKeon, who got the tag down just ahead of the runner. It was one of the best defensive plays you’ll ever see.

So we’re tied going to the bottom of the ninth. Orr, who was 2-for-4 in the game and has signed to play at Corbin College in Oregon, singled with no outs to put runners on first and second, and following an error that loaded the bases, third baseman Vince Sablan, a South Kitsap product who will be a sophomore at Olympic College next year, lofted a deep fly to left to drive in the game-winning run. Oh, yeah, pitcher Ryan Taylor, a Utah player who just finished his sophomore season at Olympic, got the win with two innings of scoreless relief.

Kitsap hosts Corvallis again Saturday (6:35 p.m.) and Sunday (1:05 p.m.), and has a makeup home doubleheader with Bellingham on Monday (3:35 p.m. start) at Gene Lobe Fields at the Fairgrounds. Bring your sunscreen. It’s supposed to get into the 90s on Monday.

Corvallis is expected to start Colin Feldtman on the mound Saturday. Feldtman’s a Bainbridge native and University of Portland pitcher who played the last two summers with the BlueJackets. He’ s 0-1 with a 4.56 ERA after four starts.

The Jackets annual Fireworks Night is Friday, July 5 with a special 7:35 p.m. start vs. Wenatchee. And Kitsap’s hosting a Christmas in July on On Saturday, July 6. Bring an unwrapped toy, which will go to Toys 4 Tots, to get into the game for free A nonperishable food item will get a coupon for a free hot dog and a drink at the concession stand.

Did you see those BlueJackets’ television ads on ROOT TV during the Mariners’ games? At least the ownership group is trying to get fans in the stands.

ALSO

The Northwest Pro Rodeo Association is holding its annual Thunderbird Rodeo Benefit this weekend at Thunderbird Stadium at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds & Events Center. Performances are Saturday (7:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1:30 p.m.).

After his hot start, Willie Bloomquist has cooled off at the plate for the Diamondbacks. The South Kitsap grad is 5-for-32 (.152) over his last 10 games and his average has dipped to .292 for the 22 games he’s played in since coming off the DL.

Drew Vettleson, the Central Kitsap grad playing for the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Class A Florida State League, has a nine-game hitting streak and has boosted his average to a season-high .270. The Tampa Rays prospect was hitting .193 after April before he started to get untracked. The outfielder has four home runs, five triples and 35 RBI, which is second on the squad.

Outfielder Aaron Cunningham, a South Kitsap grad playing at Triple-A Round Rock for Texas, has hit .316 in his last 10 games and is hitting .264 for the season. Seven of his last 12 hits have been for extra bases (5 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR)

There’s a bunch of links about M’s shortstop Brad Miller in this post by Rainiers’ broadcaster Mike Curto.

 


Monday morning links: Seattle Coyotes, M’s, Marvin, Pumas, Jackets & More

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Coyotes to Seattle?: By now, you’ve probably heard about the Phoenix Coyotes possible move to Seattle. If not, check out this report by the Seattle Times. Might be time to revitalize that NHL fantasy league. I once had a team named the Ice Tkachuks, after Keith Tkachuks, a former captain of the Coyotes.

Told you so: For all three of you who read this blog, I just want to remind you that I never liked the idea of turning Dustin Ackley into a second baseman. I thought Kyle Seager, a second baseman at North Carolina, was a better fit at second, and Ackley, an outfielder at North Carolina, should be the starting left-fielder. Ackley’s now playing outfield for Tacoma, where he’s also found his hitting stroke. Now that Nick Franklin is holding down second, I suppose it’s OK to keep Seager at third. But with Franklin, Brendan Ryan, and Carlos Triunfel all on the big club and Brad Miller waiting in the wings, the M’s are going to have to figure out what to do with all of those middle infielders. Miller’s hitting .341 with four HRs and 23 RBI since coming up to Tacoma 20 games ago. There’s probably no reason to rush him to the big leagues, but why not? When the July 31 trade deadline rolls around, look for Ryan to wind up back in the National League, and Triunfel, or even Franklin, could be pieces for a potential trade. If I’m the GM, I’d envision Miller at shortstop, Seager or Franklin at second, Ackley in left and a power hitter, someone acquired by trade or free agency, at third base, when Opening Day rolls around in 2014.

Interesting Finals: All but one game has turned into a blowout, but these NBA Finals have been pretty compelling. There’s been a different story every game. Manu Ginobili showed that he still has some game left in his tank on Sunday as he led the Spurs to a victory and 3-2 advantage over LeBron and the Miami Heat. Gonobili, 36, had 24 points and 10 assists. Last time the Heat was in this position, down 3-2 and going back to Miami, they watched the Dallas Mavericks celebrate on their homecourt. Lebron said he’s looking forward to the challenge.

Marvin returning to Jazz for another: Marvin Williams, who is recovering from heel surgery that will keep him out of the start of the next NBA season, has declined an option that would allow him to get out of his contract. So the Bremerton High grad is guaranteed $7.5 million next season. Here’s a blogger’s take on Marvin’s first year with the Jazz.

Hopson to T-Tech: Former Sequim fastpitch star Lea Hopson, a two-time Olympic League MVP, recently signed to play at Texas Tech. Hopson, who helped the Wolves to an unbeaten season and Class 2A state title, was a first-team junior college all-american at the College of Southern Idaho. Her offensive numbers were mighty impressive.

No. 2 and feeling blue: “I just keep feeling heartbreak,” said Phil Mickelson after his sixth second-place finish at the U.S. Open. Did he blow it or did Justin Rose win it?

Willie still hot: Willie Bloomquist is hitting .409 in 14 games for the Diamondbacks after going 2 for 4 on Sunday. The South Kitsap grad hit the ground running after being activated from the disabled list and continues to swing a hot bat for the Diamondbacks, who went 0-3 at San Diego but still cling to a first-place in the tight NL West. Only two games separate the four teams.

Unbeaten streak: The Kitsap Pumas can’t win, and they can’t lose. The Pumas are 0-0-5 in their last five games. The latest tie: 2-2 vs. the Portland Timbers U-23s on Saturday leaves the Pumas (1-2-5, 8 points)  in fifth-place in the Northwest Division, which is led by the Timbers (5-1-2, 17 points). The Pumas and Timbers tied 0-0 two weeks ago at Gordon Field, and they will play again in Portland on Friday, June. 21.

Jackets back home: The Kitsap BlueJackets (4-8) get a day off on Monday, but will be back in action on Tuesday for the first game of a three-game series against the Bend Elks. Kitsap beat the Elks 5-3 on Sunday in Bend, ending a four-game losing streak. Catcher Alex McKeon (.371) leads the offense, but Kitsap is hitting just .234 as a team. Pitching has been decent in the early going as the staff has a 3.72 ERA. Here’s the pitching stats. And hte hitting stats.

Struggling: Todd Linden is in the midst of a 2-for-25 stretch with Fresno, the Giants’ Triple-A club, and is hitting .179 in 27 games. The Central Kitsap grad missed most of the early season with a foot injury after fouling a ball off it and suffering a deep bruise.

Good genes: Taryn Griffey, daughter of Ken Griffey Jr., recently committed to play basketball at Arizona. She’s just now coming back after missing her junior season with a knee injury. She gives her dad credit for helping her through the recovery process.


Thursday links

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Art Thiel of Sportspressnw.com writes about the SeaAdderal Seahawks suddenly perceived by many as the bad boys of the NFL.

You’ve probably heard by now that the Mariners have sent catcher Jesus Montero to Triple-A Tacoma. Interesting move. Makes you think more moves are coming. Robert Andino, it’s been nice to know you, but isn’t it time to give Carlos Triunfel a long look? And how long do you keep running Dustin Ackley out there? The Rainiers, by the way, close out a homestand Thursday night at 7 o’clock against Nashville, then  hit the road. Next home stand will be June 1-9.

There’s no excuses for Sergio Garcia for his joke about inviting Tiger Woods over to eat some “fried chicken.”

How will Michael Crabtree’s injury impact the 49ers? Read this Grantland.com piece by Bill Barnwell.

Legendary short-track driver Dick Trickle recently took his life. Trickle competed in 303 NASCAR races, and never won one, but he’s considered by many to be one of the greatest drivers of all time. He never reached the Winston Cup level until he was 48. According to a Sports Illustrated article, he won more than 1,200 feature races in his career.

I helped out as a volunteer softball coach at Olympic College this spring, and it turned out to be a really rewarding experience. I’d played fastpitch for years, and had managed teams at times, and I coached youth baseball, but I’d never coached girls. Anyway, just thought this was a cool story about how one of our division rivals, Bellevue, supported another division rival during the championship game in Portland on Monday of this week. Not sure if a male team would have ever shown this kind of support for a rival. Check it out. (go down to the second headline, THE BIGGEST BUZZ OF ALL). Bellevue, by the way, is coached by former Sun Female Athlete of the Year, Leah Francis, a North Mason grad.


Kitsapers in the pros: SK grad Hammel faces M’s Tuesday night

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

With Willie Bloomquist on the disabled list in Arizona, Baltimore pitcher Jason Hammel is the only player with Kitsap ties now playing in the major leagues.

The Orioles’ right-hander, a 2000 grad of South Kitsap, will make his sixth start of the season Tuesday against the suddenly-hot Mariners at Safeco Field.

Hammel is 3-1 with a 3.82 ERA. He started on opening day and is considered the ace of the Orioles’ staff. He’s lasted at least six innings in all of his starts and is 3-0 with a 2.50 on the road this season.

Hammel is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts against the Mariners.

Rookie Brandon Mauer (2-1, 1.89 in his last three starts) will be on the hill for Seattle.

As for Bloomquist, the veteran utility player started the season the DL with a right oblique pull. He’s been playing some games at the Diamondbacks’ training site in Scottsdale, but there’s no word on when he’ll be activated. “He’s getting better, but he has a ways to go,” manager Kirk Gibson said last week.

In the minors:

Aaron Cunningham, another SK grad, is playing for Round Rock, a Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. He’s 8-f0r-34 in his last 10 games (.235) and hitting .239 overall for the Express, who are based just outside of Austin, Texas. The outfielder has one home run and 6 RBI. He was a sixth-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2005. He’s got 452 at bats in the big leagues, playing with Oakland (2008-09), San Diego (2010-11) and Cleveland (2012).

Todd Linden, a 32-year-0ld CK grad, is on the 7-day disabled list at Fresno. When he’s played, he’s been used at first base and as a DH. He sat a lot early as the Giants wanted to get Brent Pill a lot of at bats as Pill was coming off an injury. Linden’s hitting .286 in just 35 at bats with one home run. I asked a minor-league instructor this spring if Linden has a chance to get back to the big-league Giants, and he said it was possible, but only as a left-handed hitter. Linden’s been a switch-hitter is entire career. He’s currently hitting .320 as a lefty and .200 from the right side. He was the 41st overall pick in the 2001 MLB draft.

Drew Vettleson is off to a tough start for the Charlotte Stone Crabs, an advanced Class A club in the Florida State League. The outfielder from Central Kitsap, Tampa’s 10th-best prospect according to MLB.com, is hitting .136 in his last 10 games (6-for-44) and .202 for the season with a .220 on-base percentage. He was the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 draft.


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