July 2010

Danks Immortalized in Bobble-Form

danksbobble.JPGThe star of tonight’s show as the LumberKings close out a three-game series against Cedar Rapids will be neither an active King or Kernel, but rather, the John Danks bobblehead.

Folks from miles around flock to Alliant Energy Field once a year for this day.  In the past, the likes of Dave Stewart, Mike Scioscia, Orel Hershiser, Jason Bay, Grady Sizemore and Ian Kinsler have been immortalized with their Clinton likeness in bobble form.  Danks takes his turn tonight.

Danks pitched with the LumberKings in 2004 a year after being drafted in the first round by the Texas Rangers.  That season, he went 3-2 with a 2.17 ERA in 14 games, eight starts.

Since then, he’s passed through the upper levels of the Rangers’ system before being traded to the Chicago White Sox in 2006 in a deal that brought Brandon McCarthy and former LumberKing David Paisano to Texas.  Since his 2007 debut with the Sox, Danks is 42-40 with a 3.89 ERA, including 11-7 with a 3.23 mark in 20 starts this season.

The giveaway bobbleheads aren’t expected to last long tonight, but we will have some available to sell through the Souvenir Store.  You can obtain one in the near future by calling the Kings at 563-242-0727.

As for tonight’s game, the LumberKings try to break free from a 1-8 skid that has dropped them from third place to seventh place in the West.  The playoff hopes are still very much alive with 38 games remaining, but a winning streak needs to start soon. 

Tonight’s Game Notes: 
7.30.10 kingsnotes.pdf

Left-hander Nick Czyz (2-2, 4.34) will be on the hill this evening facing the Cedar Rapids Kernels, first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM.  Listen to the game on 1390kcln.com.


Moreland Goes 2-for-4 in Debut

moreland debut.JPG

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Former LumberKings’ 1B/OF Mitch Moreland is a .500 career hitter in the Major Leagues.  Ok, so it’s through one game, but still exciting.  Starting at first base and hitting in the eight spot for the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, Moreland singled to right in his first big-league at-bat and added another single in a 2-for-4 game.

Check out the Rangers’ article on Moreland, including video from his first professional hit here:  http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100729&content_id=12785732&notebook_id=12785738&vkey=notebook_tex&fext=.jsp&c_id=tex

He also got the shaving cream pie to the face afterwards on what has to have been a magical night for the former 17th round pick out of Mississippi State in 2007.

To add to the excitement, the Rangers have sent down first-baseman Chris Davis, meaning that Moreland will stay with the club for the forseeable future.

On another note, I incorrectly reported yesterday that Moreland is the second former Clinton player to make a Major League debut this season.  I did leave out right-hander Omar Beltre, who made his debut with the Rangers as well this season.  Beltre pitched for the LumberKings in 2003, going 3-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 16 games, five starts.


Off the Diamond: Nate Kreinbrink

Last night’s loss still stings.  Leading 3-2 in the top of the ninth, the LumberKings succumbed
Nate2009.jpgto a three-run Cedar Rapids rally, falling 5-3.  The game hinged on a double by Justin Bass that appeared from my seat to be foul.  I’ll leave last night in the past, and we move on today.

For today’s interview, I continue our “Off the Diamond” segment, highlighting the behind-the-scenes efforts of the Clinton LumberKings’ front-office staff.  Today, it’s Assistant General Manager Nate Kreinbrink joining me.

We talk about the nearly 20,000-plus increase in attendance so far over last year, the first-annual “LumberStock” taking place at Alliant Energy Field this Saturday, improvements made to the park this season and upgrades planned for the future, remaining promotions on the schedule like tomorrow’s John Danks Bobblehead Night and more.

Listen Here: 
Nate Kreinbrink OTD Interview 7.29.10.mp3

Tonight’s Game Notes: 
7.29.10 kingsnotes.pdf

With a little over a month left in the season, the LumberKings need to get hot.  Thankfully, it’s ace lefty Jimmy Gillheeney (8-7, 2.85) on the mound for his team-leading 21st start tonight.  First pitch against the Kernels is at 7:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.


Rangers Call Up Moreland

moreland2008.JPGWith former LumberKing Ian Kinsler hitting the 15-day disabled list today, the Texas Rangers announced the inevitable promotion of 1B/OF Mitch Moreland today.

Moreland was hitting .289 with 12 HR and 65 RBI with triple-A Oklahoma City this season, following a 2009 campaign in which he won the Rangers’ Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year Award.  With the LumberKings in 2008, Moreland hit a team-best .324 with 37 doubles, 18 HR and a league-high 99 RBI.

Mitch will become the second former Clinton player to make a Major League debut this season, following Justin Smoak.  Smoak debuted with the Rangers before being shipped to the Seattle Mariners as part of the deal for Cliff Lee.

More to follow once Moreland plays.

EDIT:  I was doing some digging through my audio archives and found my favorite Moreland highlight from 2008, his Grand Slam against Beloit on May 31.  Please excuse the crude quality, this was recorded back before I updated my recorder: 
Moreland Grand Slam 5.31 vs Beloit.mp3


Off-Day in Chicago

I spent one of my rare days off from baseball ironically watching more baseball yesterday.  I traveled with two other members of the Clinton LumberKings’ staff to watch our Major League affiliate, the Seattle Mariners as they took on the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

The result was ugly as Ryan Rowland-Smith served up three homers and 11 total runs in an 11-0 loss to the Sox.  Despite the outcome, it was still enjoyable to see former LumberKing Justin Smoak in action and also eat my first ice cream waffle cone in about six years.

Here’s a few photos from the trip:


Smoak during batting practice.


LumberKings’ P.A. announcer Brad Seward, Director of Operations Mitch Butz and myself.

                                      Smoak faces Gavin Floyd of the Sox.

Thanks again to Jeff Evans with the Mariners’ media department for getting me the tickets.  It was much appreciated.


2010 Draftee Snow Added to Bullpen

Right-hander Forrest Snow joins LumberKings from short-A Everett


, IA – The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the addition of right-hander Forrest Snow to the roster, promoted today from short-A Everett.  Snow’s arrival rounds out the roster at 25 active players.


A Seattle, WA native, Snow was drafted by his hometown Mariners in the 36th round this past June.  He pitched collegiately at the University of Washington, going 4-2 with a 6.30 ERA in 27 games, nine starts with the Huskies in 2010. 


Snow joins the Clinton bullpen after going 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 10 outings, 25.1 innings with the AquaSox.  He converted all three of his save attempts and limited Northwest League opponents to a .104 average, striking out 26 batters while walking only nine unintentionally.  


No uniform number is yet known for Snow, who will join the club tonight at home as they take on the Cedar Rapids Kernels.


For tickets, merchandise and more information on the Clinton LumberKings, call 563-242-0727 or visit www.lumberkings.com.



Sunday Interview: Blake Ochoa

It’s been a busy Sunday for me as I’ve gone the extra mile and recorded two interviews today.
Ochoa.Blake.jpg  Last night’s action here in Lansing forced my hand.  The big story heading into the contest was the John Tamargo Sr. vs. John Tamargo Jr. managerial battle, and I’m happy to say I have both video of their lineup card exchange (be it from long-distance) AND an interview with both JT’s as well.

As much of a broadcast golden nugget as that conversation is, I’m saving it for tomorrow’s pregame show.  Why?  Because one Blake Ochoa did something last night that I’ve never seen a LumberKing do.  He drove in seven RBI on the strength of two home runs (one of which was a grand slam) and provided all of the offense in an otherwise forgettable 12-7 loss.


Yes, the Kings have lost five-straight games, including the first four on this trip, but Ochoa’s attempt to bring his team back from 5-1 and 11-3 deficits is nothing short of amazing.  He easily could have had nine to 10 RBI in the contest as his first RBI came on a sacrifice fly to center field.  Kenny Wilson saved his liner from one-hopping the wall with a diving catch, allowing only one of the three baserunners to score.

Ochoa made sure no outfielder would catch his next two hits, dropping his second home run of the season onto the berm in left in the fifth inning before absolutely destroying a ball onto the street in left for the slam in the sixth inning.  Both homers came off of right-hander Ryan Shopshire of Lansing, who must have seen Blake in his nightmares last night despite improving to 7-8 with the win.

I’ve been doing my best to look back in the Clinton history books for the last time a player has driven in seven runs, but have been unsuccessful so far.  At least we know Ochoa is the most recent, and today we’ll hear more about just how he did it on the pregame interview.

Listen Here: 
Ochoa Interview 7.25.10.mp3

Today’s Game Notes: 
7.25.10 kingsnotes.pdf

Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (6-4, 2.90) looks to snap this five-game losing streak and get the Kings back to .500 in his 15th start of the season today.  First pitch in Lansing is scheduled for 1:05 PM central time, listen online at 1390klcn.com.


Tamargo vs. Tamargo

tamargovstamargo.jpgThe six-game Michigan swing heads here to Cooley Law School Stadium (formerly known as Oldsmobile Park) in Lansing.  The LumberKings are ailing after being swept in a doubleheader by the practically-double-A Great Lakes Loons last night, leaving them suddenly in fifth place and a half-game behidn Burlington for the West Wild Card.

The playoffs are on the line every day here in the second half for the Kings, but that takes a backseat to a degree to an unusual occurrence.  Tonight, we get to watch Clinton manager John Tamargo (pictured left on the front page of MiLB.com) face his own son, hitting coach and acting manager John Tamargo, Jr. of the Lugnuts.  I’ve been asked by a few folks if this is the first time a father and son will have managed against each other in Minor League Baseball, and to be quite honest, I haven’t been able to find out.

One thing is for sure — both Tamargos want to win this one.  JT Senior mentioned that in his speech to LumberKings’ fans at the 2010 Hot Stove Banquet way back in January.  Meanwhile, I can only imagine that JT Jr. wants to keep the playoff-hungry Lugnuts on a roll.  They’re coming off a series sweep of the Kane County Cougars, formerly the West’s first-place team.

My intention is to catch up with the Tamargos prior to tomorrow’s Sunday game.  Neither team was able to take the field today as a result of a major promotion going on at the ballpark all afternoon.

What I do have for you tonight is more LumberKings Game Notes and some highlights from last night’s doubleheader.  Enjoy:

Left-hander Nick Czyz (2-1, 3.51) makes a very important start tonight as he attempts to help snap a four-game losing streak.  The Kings have not lost five in a row this season.  The first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM central time, listen online at 1390kcln.com.


Playing Two in Loon Land

In case you didn’t see it on the LumberKings’ main page or the Kings’ facebook page, last night’s game against the Great Lakes Loons was rained out.  Thankfully, that rain is now gone (hopefully for good), and we’ll play 14 innings of baseball at Dow Diamond tonight.

You can check out the tonight’s Game Notes (
7.23.10 kingsnotes.pdf), but let me warn you…aside from adding lefty Jimmy Gillheeney’s pitcher page, things look pretty much the same from last night.  Right-hander Taylor Stanton (7-4, 3.91) will still start game one, with Gillly (8-6, 2.73) putting his fourth-best ERA on the line in game two.

My notes are also wrong in one respect.  Right-hander Matt Magill (4-2, 3.38) still starts the first game for the Loons, but it’s now right-hander Edwin Contreras (2-0, 4.26) and the rest of the Great Lakes pen will split up the innings of game two.  Scheduled starter Rubby de la Rosa was promoted up the Dodgers’ chain earlier today.

Keep an eye out for a feature I expect to do on the LumberBlog in the next series at Lansing featuring Kings’ manager John Tamargo and his son, John Tamargo Jr. who will be acting as the Lugnuts’ manager with regular skipper Sal Fasano on vacation.  I’m not sure if it’s the first father-son managerial matchup in the Minors, but it will be the first one I’ve seen.  I’m hoping to capture that interview tomorrow.

Enjoy tonight’s games as always online at 1390kcln.com!


Crossing Enemy Lines: Brad Golder

IMG00142-20100721-1814.jpgAfter a 4-2 homestand, the LumberKings are back on the road to conclude the East Division portion of their 2010 schedule.  They begin a three-game series tonight against the Great Lakes Loons, low-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the best team record-wise in affiliated baseball.

Simply put, the Loons are good.  Following a 43-26 first half that qualified them for the East Wild Card, Juan Bustabad’s club is off to a league-best 19-5 start int he second half.  They’ve replaced the league’s best player Jerry Sands with increased production from Blake Smith, Brian Cavazos-Galvez, Rafael Ynoa, Christian Lara and others.  Oh, and they also lead the league in team ERA. 

To deconstruct the powerhouse that is the Loons, I’ve decided to renew the “Crossing Enemy Lines” feature and chat with their fourth-year voice, Brad Golder.  We’ll talk about their record-setting season, get a scouting report on tonight’s starter Allen Webster and even learn a little about the (very few) weaknesses of the Loons.

Listen Here: 
Brad Golder CEL Interview 7.21.10.mp3

Tonight’s Game Notes: 
7.21.10 kingsnotes.pdf

The LumberKings will try and give right-hander Nolan Gallagher (0-3, 3.52) some actual run support (he’s been given just one run over three starts so far) in his fourth start tonight against the red-hot Loons.  First pitch is at 6:05 PM central time, listen online at 1390kcln.com.