May 2011

Tonight’s Interview: Dan Watson

The LumberKings embark on their first East Division road trip of the year, a six-game swing starting in Fort Wayne and ending in Lake County.  It might be good to face the unknown for a while as the Kings are 14-38 against West Division opponents this season.

It’s also good to be returning to Fort Wayne’s Parkview Field, the crown jewel of parks here in the Midwest League.  The LumberKings were last here in 2009, taking one of three from the eventual MWL Champion TinCaps.  Last year, Nick Franklin, Vinnie Catricala, Erasmo Ramirez, Brian Moran myself enjoyed the 2010 Midwest League All-Star Game at this very park.

Rather than focus in too much on the four-game series against Beloit that was completed with a doubleheader yesterday that saw the Kings lose both ends to the Snappers, I’m looking forward and talking about the TinCaps tonight with their third-year broadcast voice, Dan Watson.  The ‘Caps are sixth in the East but only four games out of the Wild Card spot and have been competitive in the month of May after losing their two brightest starts — ’09 first-rounder Donavan Tate and ’09 second-rounder Everett Williams — on the same outfield collision at Bowling Green in just the second series of the year.  Watson talks about the loss of those two, the rise of 25-year-old Rule 5 pick Jake Blackwood in their place, hard-throwing right-hander Keyvius Sampson (who starts tonight), TinCaps’ first-year manager and Anaheim Angels’ 2002 playoff hero Shawn Wooten and more.

Listen Here:  Dan Watson Interview 5.31.11

If  you want to check out more from Mr. Watson, head over to his blog, “The Watson Files“.  You have my permission to stray away from mine today.  But just this once.

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.31.11 kingsnotes

Today’s Roster Move:  Technically this was yesterday, but first-baseman Tim Morris was reinstated from the DL as infielder Shaver Hansen was placed on the 7-day DL.  Active roster stands at 24 players.

Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (14-38):  Julio Morban/CF, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Tim Morris/DH, Stefen Romero/2B, Kevin Rivers/LF, Steven Baron/C, Jabari Blash/RF, Carlos Ramirez/3B, Anthony Phillips/SS, Taijuan Walker/RHP

Fort Wayne TinCaps (23-27):  Pat McKenna/3B, Rymer Liriano/CF, Luis Domoromo/RF, Tommy Medica/1B, Jose Dore/LF, Emmanuel Quiles/C, Wes Cunningham/DH, B.J. Guinn/SS, Chris Bisson/2B, Keyvius Sampson/RHP

First pitch is at 6:05 PM central time, join me for the broadcast on


Memorial Day Notes (5/30)

It’s back to blogging today as the only action taking place at Alliant Energy Field yesterday was that of the front office staff (myself included) moving about an inch of water out of our office after a torrential downpour dropped several inches on us in roughly an hour.  The warning track from left to right-center was also submerged, making it impossible to play the scheduled 2 PM game with the Snappers.

It’s a tired old phrase, but what a difference a day makes.  No rain in the forecast, 90-degree temperatures and most importantly, a dry field and an office dry enough to work out of.  We’ll play two today with the Snappers starting at 12 PM.

I had hoped to catch Jabari Blash for the pregame interview following his two-run triple that capped a five-run fifth inning in Clinton’s 6-4 comeback win against Beloit two nights ago.  Time won’t allow me to do that today, so hopefully Blash has a huge twinbill so I can interview him tomorrow.

Saturday’s highlights:  Sams RBI single 5.28.11  |  Wiswall 2-R single 5.28.11  |  Blash 2-R triple 5.28.11

Today’s Game Notes:  5.30.11 kingsnotes

Left-hander James Paxton (1-1, 2.22), 1-0 with a 1.62 ERA and 29 strikeouts over his last four starts, gets the game-one nod today.  Right-hander Forrest Snow (1-7, 4.45) will try and end his five-game losing streak in the second game, hoping to revisit his 6.0-inning no-hit effort against the Snappers back on April 12.

Listen to both seven-inning games on


Stanley Cup Finals Preview with Jon Hesketh

You are reading the title of this post correctly, you have not stumbled upon the wrong blog.  We are talking hockey tonight, partially because of a less-than-thrilling 10-1 LumberKings’ loss at the hands of the Beloit Snappers last night, but primarily because of the presence of Langley, British Columbia, Canada native Jon Hesketh on the roster.  The left-handed Hesketh, currently on the disabled list with a left thumb injury, is a die-hard Vancouver Canucks fan.  For those of you who don’t pay attention to the NHL, the Canucks are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994.

Hesketh gives me his thoughts on Vancouver’s return to hockey’s biggest stage, breaks down the offensive match-ups (the Sedin brothers vs. Boston’s David Krejci), who has the edge in goal (Roberto Luongo vs. Tim Thomas), he and fellow Canadian James Paxton’s own clubhouse rivalry with Boston-area native Mickey Wiswall and more.

I do follow NHL hockey, although not as intently as pro baseball, so keep that in mind when listening tonight.  Still, it’s an enjoyable departure from the norm.  Listen Here:  Hesketh Stanley Cup Preview 5.28.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.28.11 kingsnotes

Baseball-wise, the Kings are back at it against the Snappers tonight at 6:00 PM.  Left-hander Edlando Seco makes his third start of the season, looking for better success than his previous two relief outings against Beloit this year (0-0, 11.57 ERA).  Listen to the game on


Friday Notes (5/27)

The LumberKings won just their third series all season and first in the month of May last night as right-hander Taijuan Walker and relievers Nate Reed and Jessie Nava combined for a six-hit shutout in a 2-0 win over the Cedar Rapids Kernels last night.  Walker went 5.0 innings and allowed just two hits, improving to 2-2 on the season and 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his last three starts.  Stefen Romero and Jabari Blash drove in Clinton’s runs with a single and double, respectively.

Listen to the RBI hits:  Romero RBI single 5.26.11  |  Blash RBI double 5.26.11

Tonight, it’s back home to start a four-game series against the slumping Beloit Snappers, losers of nine-straight.  Right-hander George Mieses will hope to revisit his last start against the Snappers (a 7.0-inning, two-hit, scoreless effort) as he attempts to snap a three-game losing streak (0-3, 10.80 during that span).

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.27.11 kingsnotes

Today’s Roster Move:  NONE!

Starting Lineups:

Beloit Snappers (21-26):  Jamaal Hawkins/2B, Wang-Wei Lin/CF, Nate Roberts/DH, Michael Gonzales/1B, Daniel Ortiz/LF, Lance Ray/RF, Kyle Knudson/C, Andrew Leer/3B, Daniel Santana/SS, Manuel Soliman/RHP

LumberKings (13-35):  Julio Morban/CF, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Stefen Romero/2B, Kevin Rivers/DH, Matt Browning/3B, Steven Baron/C, Jabari Blash/RF, Anthony Phillips/SS, Robbie Anston/LF, George Mieses/RHP

It’s a 6:30 start time tonight at Alliant Energy Field, listen online at


Tonight’s Interview: Eddie Menchaca (Vol. 3)

My apologies for not posting yesterday, it’s a rarity.  Myself and the rest of the LumberKings had a short night after waiting for an hour before starting up on Tuesday night, beating the Cedar Rapids Kernels 7-1 to halt a five-game losing streak, driving two hours back to Clinton, getting up the next morning and boarding the bus at 8:30 AM, making the two-hour drive back, playing baseball at roughly noon and losing the middle game, 2-1 to the Kernels.

There’s been plenty to talk about.  As you’ve likely already seen, left-hander James Paxton struck out a career-high 12 batters on Tuesday night to win for the first time in affiliated pro baseball.  Steven Baron homered and Stefen Romero doubled to give him a 2-1 lead, and the Kings scored five times in the ninth to put the game out of reach.  Yesterday, right-hander Forrest Snow turned in his team-leading fifth quality start but still fell to 1-7 on the season as Kernels’ right-hander Heath Nichols outdueled him for the win.  Kalian Sams homered for the third time in four games in the ninth to end the shutout, but neither pinch-hitter Jabari Blash nor Anthony Phillips could continue the comeback against closer Dakota Robinson.

Thus, today is the rubber match between the Kings and Kernels.  Manager Eddie Menchaca is my pregame guest today as we talk about the trip so far (Clinton is 2-7 but has been close in all seven losses), the chance for a rare series win today behind 18-year-old right-hander Taijuan Walker (who is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his last two starts), the success of Sams in the lineup (he’s hit in 10-straight games), the club’s realistic goals for the remainder of this first half and more.

Listen Here:  Menchaca interview 5.26.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.26.11 kingsnotes

Your Daily Roster Move:  Right-hander Jandy Sena has been promoted to double-A Jackson, effective today.  No counter-move was made, leaving the LumberKings’ roster at 24 players out of a possible 25. 

Today’s Lineups:

LumberKings (12-35):  Julio Morban/CF, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Stefen Romero/3B, Matt Browning/DH, Kalian Sams/RF, Steven Baron/C, Jabari Blash/LF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Anthony Phillips/SS, Taijuan Walker/RHP

Cedar Rapids Kernels (23-23):  Travis Witherspoon/CF, Wes Hatton/2B, David Harris/RF, Brandon Decker/1B, Jeremy Cruz/3B, Ricky Alvarez/DH, Marcus Nidiffer/C, Jerod Yakubik/LF, Jesus Campos/SS, Suammy Baez/RHP

First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 PM, hopefully the Kings can get some runs off slippy-slappy-swimmy-Suammy-Swanson-oh-yeah-Samsonite and take the series this evening.  Listen online at


Tuesday Notes (5/24)

The 10-game road trip shifts to Cedar Rapids for the always-fun commuter series against the Kernels.  It’s good to have a change of scenery as the LumberKings were just swept in Peoria and are 1-6 at O’Brien Field this season.

That record includes another loss last night, 9-4 at the hands of the Chiefs.  The Kings showed plenty of mid-game moxy in recovering from a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead.  Kalian Sams belted a two-run homer completely over the batter’s eye (listen:  Sams 2-R HR (#2) 5.23.11), easily the deepest home run I’ve seen hit this season and ever at O’Brien Field.  My own unofficial estimate, given a 400-foot wall and batter’s eye of roughly a 30-foot height means Sams’ blast traveled at least 450 feet.  Kevin Rivers lifted a solo shot of his own to right-center to give the Kings a temporary 4-3 lead.

But that bullpen again, the one that has seen so many struggles on this trip, gave up six unanswered runs and the Chiefs won by a margin that didn’t really speak to the closeness of the game.  At this point, though, losses are losses.

This trip is still salvageable.  The LumberKings take on a Kernels’ club that is just 2-12 over their last 14 games, had an eight-game losing streak that included a no-hitter at the hands of Kane County and is hitting just .195 as a club over the last 10 games.  Clinton will roll out left-hander James Paxton (0-1, 2.42), right-handers Forrest Snow (1-6, 4.62) and Taijuan Walker (1-2, 5.19) on the series, all three due for some wins. 

It does look like rain will play a role in the series.  The Perfect Game Field tarp crew is assembling as we speak, and the forecast looks awful for tomorrow should this one get rained out tonight.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.24.11 kingsnotes

Your LumberKings Roster Move of the day:  left-hander Jon Hesketh was officially placed on the DL yesterday after getting hit in the left hand by a Kyung-Min Na liner the previous game.  He’s now replaced by right-hander Jessie Nava, up from the Everett roster.  Shortstop Jake Schlander has switched spots with infielder Anthony Phillips, meaning Phillips is again a LumberKing while Schlander is back with High Desert.

First pitch is at 6:35 PM (maybe), listen online at


Tonight’s Interview: Kalian Sams

The LumberKings fell by five runs for the first time since April 29 yesterday afternoon, dropping their fourth-straight game on this road trip by a final score of 8-3 in Peoria.  Kalian Sams got the Kings off to a good start with a solo home run on top of the left-field berm in the second inning and finished 2-for-4, adding a double and scoring a second time later in the game.  Shaver Hansen went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the leadoff spot to keep Clinton close at 4-3 entering the bottom of the seventh, but the Chiefs scored four unanswered runs over the next two innings to win convincingly.

Focusing on Sams, who in his first 10 games back showed more in the way of patience than the raw power we saw for most of 2010, homered off Chiefs’ left-hander Austin Kirk who had dared to pitch him inside.  The blast (listen here:  Sams Solo HR (#1) 5.22.11) was a bit of the old from “the Swinging Dutchman”, his 17th career home run as a LumberKing and his 21st in the Midwest League.  Still, the slimmed down slugger has showed more speed than pop so far (four steals in four tries and more than a few tough running grabs in right field), and that’s a main topic of tonight’s pregame interview.

Sams talks about his first home run back in the black and green, losing 20 pounds with a new trainer this offseason, utilizing his eye and his speed more this year, coming down from High Desert to join the Kings again and more.

Listen Here:  Sams Interview 5.23.11

More on Sams and company in tonight’s Game Notes:  5.23.11 kingsnotes

I’m laying off the lineups again in an attempt to see if it’ll  help us start a winning streak.  Either that or I’m lazy, you decide.  I can tell you that left-hander Edlando Seco (0-0, 5.30) makes his second start for Clinton tonight and that the Chiefs counter with right-hander Dallas Beeler (1-1, 0.86).  Looks like another challenge for these LumberKings’ bats as Beeler hasn’t allowed a run over his last 15.0 innings.

First pitch is at 6:30 PM, listen in


Sunday Notes (5/22)

A resounding theme both here at O’Brien Field in Peoria this season and in this month of May as well: the LumberKings held a slim lead last night, couldn’t avoid one bad inning and then couldn’t recover despite putting the tying run aboard in the ninth inning.  Clinton’s 3-1 lead in the fifth inning turned into a 5-3 deficit after Elliot Soto’s two-run single and Greg Rohan’s RBI single powered the Chiefs’ three-run sixth inning.

Steven Baron homered last night, Kevin Rivers doubled and drove in a run as well but it wasn’t enough.  Right-hander Taijuan Walker exited with a 3-2 lead which left-hander Nate Reed kept in-tact through the fifth, but Reed walked two and watched them both score in the sixth.  Kalian Sams singled to lead off the ninth, but a double play quickly erased him and any chance for a comeback as Chiefs’ left-hander Eric Jokisch improved to 6-0 on the season, 4-0 against the LumberKings.

Here’s the one stat I dug up today that might be a potential bright spot for the Kings as they take on Peoria at 1:00 PM central time today…right-hander George Mieses, today’s starter, is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in day games on the road this season.  Of course, that’s just one outing on 4/30 at Wisconsin, but it’s also the 19-year-old’s only win thus far.  Am I reaching a bit?  Probably, but we’d sure love to have that 5.0-inning, one-run effort again today.

Today’s Game Notes:  5.22.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (11-32):  Shaver Hansen/2B, Carlos Ramirez/SS, Stefen Romero/3B, Mickey Wiswall/D, Matt Browning/1B, Julio Morban/CF, Kalian Sams/RF, Jabari Blash/LF, Steven Baron/C, George Mieses/RHP

Peoria Chiefs (23-19):  Matt Szczur/CF, Elliot Soto/2B, Greg Rohan/3B, Richard Jones/1B, Micah Gibbs/C, Ryan Cuneo/DH, Anthony Giansanti/RF, Kyung-Min Na/LF, Arismendy Alcantara/SS, Austin Kirk/LHP

First pitch is at 1:00 PM, listen online at


Tonight’s Interview: Forrest Snow (Vol. 2)

It’s been more rough going on this trip for the LumberKings since Wednesday’s 4-3 win at Burlington.  After seeing a win slip through their grasp on Thursday in a 7-5 extra-inning loss to the Bees, the Kings came out flat offensively last night and failed to take advantage of early baserunners, falling 3-1 to the Peoria Chiefs.

Right-hander Forrest Snow turned in his fourth quality start and his fourth-straight outing of 6-plus innings, going seven frames with three runs on seven hits and three strikeouts.  Still, he lost for the fourth-straight start and is now 1-6 on the season.  How’s the Snowman handling his starting role after nine outings?  Find out on tonight’s interview.

Listen Here: Snow Interview 5.21.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.21.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (11-31):  Shaver Hansen/2B, Robbie Anston/LF, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Stefen Romero/3B, Julio Morban/CF, Kalian Sams/RF, Kevin Rivers/DH, Jake Schlander/SS, Steven Baron/C, Taijuan Walker/RHP

Peoria Chiefs (22-19):  Pierre LePage/2B, Elliot Soto/SS, Greg Rohan/3B, Richard Jones/1B, Anthony Giansanti/RF, Ryan Cuneo/1B, Sergio Burruel/C, DJ Fitzgerald/LF, Kyung-Min Na/CF, Hayden Simpson/RHP

First pitch is at 6:30 PM, listen online at


Friday Notes (5/20)

Tough one last night.  That’s all I’ll say.  Our bus to O’Brien Field in Peoria, IL is scheduled for 4:00 PM as a result of a college doubleheader going on there today, so I won’t be posting an interview tonight.

Check out tonight’s Game Notes:  5.20.11 kingsnotes

More tomorrow.