Kings in Spring (March 25)
Well, it was nice to finally catch the Mariners in Cactus League action, even though it was from the dusty office TV as they played the Chicago Cubs on WGN rather than from my favorite seat down the left-field line at the Peoria Sports Complex. Still, it was nice to get a look at right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen (’10) in the #73 uni…aside for a minor hiccup in the way of a Blake DeWitt solo homer, he looked pretty comfortable in two innings of relief work. Wilhelmsen and Justin Smoak (’08), who went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, look like locks to make the Opening Day roster to me.
Another funny note from the game, former LumberKings infielder Kyle Seager (’09) got into the action at third base, wearing #92 with no nameplate. The 90’s numbers are normally given to the Minor League players called up to the big-league game for the day, but apparently that number was originally intended for Mario Martinez. As a result, Cubs’ broadcaster Len Kasper referred to Seager as Martinez for a couple defensive plays and a full at-bat. I doubt anyone aside from me, the Seager family and a few other Clintonites noticed or cared.
I didn’t catch the entire game, but Denny Almonte (’09) also made a cameo appearance, grounding out on one pitch in his lone at-bat.
In Texas Rangers news, and certainly a note not to be lost in the mix, it appears that former LumberKings’ third-baseman and one-time Futures Game hero John Whittleman (’06-’07) has been shipped to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for a player to be named later. That’s according to multiple sources, cited in an email I received from The Newberg Report. Whittleman, a second-round pick in ’05, struggled in ’06 but was an All-Star with the Kings in ’07. He remains the only active LumberKing ever to participate in an MLB All-Star Futures Game, something I covered earlier this offseason in an edition of The Interview Vault. If the reports are true, it’s a fresh start for Whit in the deepest Minor League system in baseball. He’s always been a favorite of mine, I hope this works out well for him.
As you can tell, I’m working late on a Friday night yet again. Such is life this close to the baseball season. We’re about 13 days and 15 minutes away from the first pitch.