Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Tonight’s Interview: Nathan Baliva

I’ve seen some crazy games over the past seasons here at O’Brien Field in Peoria, especially last season.  From Chiefs’ right-hander Nick Struck’s 4.0-inning rain-shortened no-hitter, to Matt Cerda’s walk-off grand slam, to Vinnie Catricala and Mario Martinez belting solo home runs to overcome a 9th inning deficit, to Clinton’s double-digit doubleheader sweep, to the Chiefs’ huge ninth-inning comeback, we saw a little of everything at this place in 2010.

Last night, a new chapter was written…and not in a good way for the Kings.  Peoria left-hander Cam Greathouse tossed 7.0 one-hit innings and received help from a triple play started by shortstop Elliot Soto in the seventh as the Chiefs blanked Clinton, 3-0 to start the series.  The lone hit in the game belonged to Tim Morris, who singled to right with one out in the sixth inning.  That was the only support for right-hander Forrest Snow, who fell to 1-3 despite his team-best third quality start.

Chatting with Peoria Chiefs’ voice Nathan Baliva following Struck’s no-no last year seemed to provide better luck for the Kings, so I renew that interview today with my broadcast counterpart.  We cover Greathouse’s performance last night, manager Casey Kopitzke’s second season at the helm of the Chiefs, tonight’s all-first-round mound matchup and more.

Listen Here:  Nathan Baliva Interview 5.5.11

There’s rain clouds brewing just outside Peoria that could put a serious damper on tonight’s game, but if they hold off, we’re in for one heck of a pitcher’s duel.  Right-hander Taijuan Walker, Seattle’s first-round pick (43rd overall) out of Yucaipa High School will make his first pro start and fifth appearance tonight for the LumberKings.  The Chiefs counter with Chicago Cubs’ first-round pick, right-hander Hayden Simpson.

Read more about Walker’s first start in tonight’s Game Notes:  5.5.11 kingsnotes 

Tonight’s Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (8-19):  Julio Morban/LF, Matt Cerione/CF, Tim Morris/D, Stefen Romero/2B, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Carlton Tanabe/C, Taijuan Walker/RHP

Peoria Chiefs (13-13):  Pierre LePage/2B, Elliot Soto/DH, Rubi Silva/CF, Richard Jones/1B, Micah Gibbs/C, Smaily Borges/RF, Arismendy Alcantara/SS, DJ Fitzgerald/LF, Anthony Giansanti/3B, Hayden Simpson/RHP

First pitch, as far as I know, is still scheduled for 6:30 PM.  You’ll want to be listening to this one, so tune me in online at


Wednesday Notes (5/4)

The LumberKings open a three-game series in Peoria tonight, taking on a Chiefs club that pulled off their first series sweep of the Kings since 1998 when they met up at Alliant Energy Field late last month.  Peoria outscored the Kings 31-6 in that series, so Eddie Menchaca’s club owes them plenty at O’Brien Field.

The Kings were cooled off by Beloit left-hander Logan Darnell last night and the Snappers took an early 2-0 lead on left-hander Anthony Fernandez en route to a 6-3 win.  That drops Clinton back into a two-way tie for seventh in the West alongside Kane County.

No pregame interview tonight, but I’ve still got notes for you.  Here they are:  5.4.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (8-18):  Julio Morban/LF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Tim Morris/1B, Mickey Wiswall/D, Matt Cerione/CF, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, Forrest Snow/RHP

Peoria Chiefs (12-13):  Matt Szczur/RF, Pierre LePage/2B, Rubi Silva/CF, Richard Jones/1B, Micah Gibbs/C, Elliot Soto/SS, Smaily Borges/LF, DJ Fitzgerald/DH, Arismendy Alcantara/3B, Cam Greathouse/LHP

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


Tonight’s Interview: Eddie Menchaca (Vol. 2)

For the second-straight game, the LumberKings’ offense stormed out to a 7-0 lead on Beloit.  Unlike Sunday, the offense kept rolling late and the bullpen survived meltdown as Clinton won by its largest margin of the season, 13-6 over the Snappers.  Ramon Morla (2-for-4) and Carlos Ramirez (3-for-3) each drove in three runs apiece and Jabari Blash went 1-for-2 with a double and two RBI to lead the offense, all backing 5.0 scoreless innings from right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen.

With the offense finally starting to produce, the starting rotation coming back strong (3-0, 0.75 over the last four games) and the addition of two new arms to the roster — including one very high-profile right-hander that you’ve likely heard about already), it’s the perfect time to catch up with LumberKings’ manager Eddie Menchaca for the second time this season.

We talk about the offense including Morla and Ramirez, Julio Morban, Tim Morris and others, the additons of right-handers Taijuan Walker and Jandy Sena, Chaca’s “win the inning” philosophy and more.

Listen Here:  Menchaca Interview 5.3.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.3.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

Beloit Snappers (13-9):  Jamaal Hawkins/SS, Andrew Leer/3B, Nate Roberts/DH, Michael Gonzales/1B, Daniel Ortiz/LF, Lance Ray/RF, Kyle Knudson/C, Wang-Wei Lin/CF, Derek McCallum/2B, Logan Darnell/LHP

LumberKings (8-17):  Julio Morban/LF, Carlos Ramirez/2B, Stefen Romero/DH, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Matt Cerione/CF, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, Anthony Fernandez/LHP

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


Friday Notes (4/29)

The Kings and Rattlers were rained out last night, meaning both a doubleheader today at Time Warner Cable Field in Appleton and not much in the way of new content from me.  Here’s tonight’s Game Notes, updated with game two starter Forrest Snow’s information:  4.29.11 kingsnotes

That’s all for now.  The weather here is spectacular today, so we should have no problem getting in both seven-inning games starting at 5:05 PM.  Listen online at


Tonight’s Interview: James Paxton

The tarp is on here as a light rain falls at Time Warner Cable Field in Grand Chute, Wisconsin.  The LumberKings are supposed to open a three-game series against the Timber Rattlers tonight at 6:35 PM, but it’s looking like the start time will be pushed back.

Last night on another crisp evening at Alliant Energy Field, we witnessed the much-anticipated professional debut of left-hander James Paxton, a one-time supplemental first-round pick of Toronto and fourth-round pick of the Mariners last June.  The former Kentucky Wildcat turned in just the fourth quality outing by a LumberKings starter this year, allowing three runs on five hits over 6.0 innings and striking out six — but he also took the loss as the Kings fell 7-2 to the Peoria Chiefs.

Still, it was fun to watch the 23-year-old get ahead in the count with a four-seam fastball that touched 94-95 and follow with a big breaking curveball that landed for both called strikes and swings and misses.  Paxton also proved resilient, staying in the game after being struck on the inner thigh by a comebacker hit by Sergio Burruel to lead off the second.

Listen to Paxton’s first career strikeout:  Paxton First Career Strikeout 4.27.11

Listen to Stefen Romero’s first career home run:  Romero First Pro HR 4.27.11

Paxton is my interview guest tonight.  We talk about his first pro start, his Spring Training experience with the Mariners, his arsenal including a two-seam and four-seam fastball, his stint with Grand Prairie of the American Association last year, pitching alongside Clinton native Tyler Howe at the University of Kentucky, his goals for 2011 and more.

Listen Here:  Paxton Interview 4.28.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  4.28.11 kingsnotes

Should the rain subside, here’s tonight’s lineups:

LumberKings (5-15):  Shaver Hansen/2B< Julio Morban/CF, Tim Morris/1B, Mickey Wiswall/LF, Stefen Romero/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/DH, Steven Baron/C, Carlos Ramirez/SS, Seon Gi Kim/RHP

Wisconsin (6-10):  Reggie Keen/CF, Nick Shaw/2B, Cody Hawn/1B, Mike Walker/DH, Greg Hopkins/3B, Robbie Garvey/LF, Tyler Roberts/C, Carlos George/SS, Franklin Romero/RF, Matt Miller/RHP

First pitch will be…well…hopefull at some point tonight.  Listen online at


Tonight’s Interview: Tim Morris

As last night’s 10-1 loss to the Peoria Chiefs indicates, this offense is still struggling to produce runs.  Still, if you look past the box score (as one must do to stay sane when a team is scuffling), you’ll see bits and pieces of progress and signs of better days to come.   That’s what I’ve seen in the at-bats put together by Tim Morris over the last few days.  Morris went 2-for-3 with a double last night for his fourth multi-hit effort in the last five games.  The 2010 holdover is hitting .361, eighth-best in the Midwest League.

I decided to catch up with Morris today to talk about his second season in the black and green.  We talk about his solid start to the year, the state of the offense, his newfound agressiveness on the basepaths, memories of the 2010 Midwest League Playoffs, his advice to the younger players and more.

Listen Here:   Morris Interview 4.27.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  4.27.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

Peoria (10-8):  Matt Szczur/CF, Pierre LePage/2B, Greg Rohan/3B, Richard Jones/1B, Smaily Borges/RF, Sergio Burruel/C, DJ Fitzgerald/DH, Anthony Giansanti/LF, Arismendy Alcantara/SS, Dallas Beeler/RHP

LumberKings (5-14):  Shaver Hansen/2B, Tim Morris/DH, Matt Cerione/CF, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Ramon Morla/3B, Stefen Romero/LF, Jabari Blash/RF, Steven Baron/C, Carlos Ramirez/SS, James Paxton/LHP

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


Blash Arrives from AZ, Rivers Heads to DL

Mariners’ 8th round pick, outfielder Jabari Blash joins LumberKings

Clinton, IA– The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the following transaction for the Clinton 25-man roster: outfielder Kevin Rivers has been placed on the seven-day disabled list and is replaced on the roster by outfielder Jabari Blash, called up from extended Spring Training today.

Rivers, 22, hit .276 with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI in 17 games for the LumberKings this season.  He exited last night’s 14-3 loss toPeoria after an eighth-inning at-bat in which he was struck in the hand by a ball that ricocheted off his bat.  Rivers later drew a walk and stayed in the game, but was replaced defensively for the ninth inning.

Blash, 21, hit .266 with six doubles, five homers and 20 RBI in 32 games for rookie-level Pulaski last season. Seattle drafted him in the eighth round out of Miami Dade Community College in 2010.

The moves give Clintona total of 25 active players with two on the disabled list.  Blash has not yet chosen a uniform number, but will be available for tonight’s 6:30 PM game againstPeoria.


Monday Notes (4/25)

The LumberKings are back in action following yesterday’s first off day of the regular season.  The Kings snapped a six-game losing streak on Saturday in Kane County, winning the second game of a doubleheader 3-2 over the Cougars.  Left-hander Anthony Fernandez yielded two runs on four hits over 5.1 innings to become the first Clinton starter to win this season.  The offense backed him with three runs, including RBI singles from Julio Morban and Mickey Wiswall.

Tonight, the Kings open a three-game home series against the Peoria Chiefs.  Right-hander George Mieses (0-1, 2.00) has been outstanding so far on the year despite just two runs of support.  He’ll make his fourth start of the year.  The Chiefs counter with Chicago Cubs’ first-round pick, right-hander Hayden Simpson (0-1, 4.26).

Tonight’s Game Notes:   4.25.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

Peoria Chiefs (8-8):  Matt Szczur/CF, Pierre LePage/2B, Greg Rohan/1B, Smaily Borges/RF, Micah Gibbs/C, Elliot Soto/SS, DJ Fitzgerald/DH, Anthony Giansanti/LF, Arismendy Alcantara/3B, Hayden Simpson/RHP

LumberKings (5-12):  Matt Cerione/CF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Julio Morban/RF, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Ramon Morla/3B, Tim Morris/DH, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, Kevin Rivers/LF, George Mieses/RHP

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


Roster Moves, Alumni Notes (4/25)

A few roster-related changes to pass along…over the weekend, right-hander Jonathan Arias was removed from the DL as right-hander Fray Martinez (0-1, 7.00) was added to the DL.  Today, infielder Anthony Phillips was promoted to high-A High Desert and is replaced by infielder Shaver Hansen.  Check out the release here:

We just witnessed a third former LumberKing make his Major League debut already this season.  Right-hander Cody Eppley (’08), who went 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA in two relief appearances with Clinton back in the day, debuted on Saturday against Kansas City, working 2.0 innings of scoreless relief including a strikeout .  He earned a hold to help Alexi Ogando to his third win of the season in a 3-1 Rangers’ victory.

Eppley was promoted to fill the spot of former LumberKings right-hander Neftali Feliz (’08), who hit the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation.  The 43rd round pick of the Rangers in 2008 out of Virginia Commonwealth was the franchise’s Minor League Reliever of the Year in 2010 (5-2, 2.08 ERA, 16 saves between Bakersfield, Frisco and Oklahoma City) and was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and three saves for triple-A Round Rock prior to the promotion.

He joins Seattle Mariners’ right-handers Josh Lueke and Tom Wilhelmsen as former LumberKings to make Major League debuts this season.


Today’s Interview: Jeff Hem

As you’ve probably gathered already, last night’s game between the LumberKings and the Kane County Cougars was postponed by rain.  We’ll play yet another doubleheader today (our fourth this season) starting at 2:30 PM.  Clinton will be looking to snap another five-game losing streak after falling 8-4 in the opener of the series on Thursday.

Today’s Game Notes:  4.23.11 kingsnotes

For today’s pregame interview, I decided to do my first “crossing enemy lines” segment of the 2011 season, although I’m not sure I like sticking with that name all the time.  I talked with my esteemed colleague in the Kane County broadcast booth, the seventh-year voice of the Cougars, Jeff Hem.  Much of our discussion revolves around their new affiliate, the Kansas City Royals, their first-time coaches (all MLB vets) Vance Wilson, Jim Brower and Damon Hollins, prospects like Alex Llanos and the injured Brett Eibner and more.

Listen Here:  Jeff Hem Interview 4.23.11

The Kings have swept Kane County in a doubleheader once this season, that back on April 16 at Alliant Energy Field.  They’ll attempt to sweep them again and win their second series of the season with right-hander Forrest Snow (0-1, 3.86) on the hill in game one and left-hander Anthony Fernandez (0-o, 5.40) starting in game two.  Matt Cerione is back in the lineup today after missing the last 10 games.

Today’s Game 1 Lineups:

LumberKings (4-11):  Matt Cerione/DH, Carlos Ramirez/2B, Julio Morban/CF, Mickey Wiswall/LF, Ramon Morla/3B, Tim Morris/1B, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, Kevin Rivers/RF, Forrest Snow/RHP

Kane County (6-9):  Alex Llanos/DH, Yowill Espinal/2B, Brian Fletcher/LF, Lane Adams/CF, Murray Watts/1B, Geulin Beltre/RF, Ryan Stovall/3B, Travis Jones/C, Gerard Hall/SS, Leonel Santiago/RHP

The pregame show starts at 2:15 PM, listen online at