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Rainiers Update: New Manager, Player Moves, Ignoring A Lockout

Hello everybody! A load of Tacoma Rainiers news has interrupted my winter hibernation, and we need to recap it. We’ve got a new manager, there is a lockout, and several Rainiers players from last season have settled on their next move. Let’s get to it.

Tim Federowicz Named Tacoma Rainiers Manager

The Seattle Mariners have hired former catcher Tim Federowicz to manage the 2022 Tacoma Rainiers. He fills the vacancy created by the promotion of Kristopher Negron to the Mariners major league coaching staff.

Federowicz, 34, just retired from a 14-year playing career that featured parts of eight seasons in the major leagues. Since first reaching the Triple-A level in 2011 with Albuquerque, Federowicz served as either the No. 2 catcher in the majors or the primary backup option available in the minors. This led to a nomadic career that saw him appear in games for six different major league teams and eight different Triple-A squads.

Although a native of Erie, PA, Federowicz spent his formative years in Apex, NC where he attended high school before going to the University of North Carolina. At UNC he was named Freshman All-America, they reached the College World Series all three years he played, and he was teammates with Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley. The Boston Red Sox drafted him in 2008 and he started his pro career.

Federowicz will jump directly from the clubhouse to the manager’s office. He played for the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2021, and he was also a part of Team USA and won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics.

This is the first time the Mariners have employed Federowicz, in any role, but he was once in a Mariners trade you might remember. When the Mariners cut bait on Erik Bedard in July of 2011 they made a three-team deal: Seattle sent Bedard and Josh Fields to the Red Sox, the Red Sox sent prospects Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, and Juan Rodriguez to the Dodgers, and the Dodgers sent Trayvon Robinson and Chih Hsien Chiang to the Mariners. That deal worked out well for Federowicz, who was in Double-A for the Red Sox at the time of the trade. He made his major league debut a month later for the Dodgers.

Federowicz pronounces his last name “fed-er-OH-vitch,” but people have been calling him “Fed Ex” since he was in high school. He is on both Twitter and Instagram as @FedX19.

Jose Marmolejos Goes To Japan

The Rakuten Golden Eagles signed former Rainiers slugger Jose Marmolejos to a contract for the 2022 season. This comes as no surprise – Marmolejos was being scouted heavily by several different Japanese teams while he was laying waste to Triple-A West pitching during the 2021 season.

Marmolejos had a historic season for the Triple-A West Champion Tacoma Rainiers in 2021. He hit .338/.439/.672 with 26 home runs while winning both the league MVP and the batting title. He became the second player in Tacoma’s franchise history to win the MVP, joining Dick Phillips of the 1961 Tacoma Giants. He is also the second Tacoma player in franchise history to win a batting title, matching Troy Neel of the 1992 Tacoma Tigers.

We thank Marmolejos for his tremendous contributions to Tacoma’s title run, and wish him the best in Japan.

O’Keefe, Liberato, Weiss Choose Destinations For 2022

Three other key members of the 2021 championship team have made choices for next season.

Catcher Brian O’Keefe has returned to the Mariners organization. A minor league free agent after the completion of this past season, O’Keefe re-signed with the Mariners on a minor league deal. As the roster stands right now, O’Keefe appears likely to share Tacoma catching duties with Jose Godoy. O’Keefe has power and frequently hit cleanup for Tacoma during the final two months of the season.

Outfielder Luis Liberato is moving on, signing a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres. Tacoma’s 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, Liberato was a free agent after spending his entire pro career in the Mariners organization. He has yet to appear in the major leagues – hopefully he’ll get a shot with the Padres.

Reliver Zack Weiss, also a free agent, decided to sign a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Weiss spent the majority of the 2021 season working out of the Tacoma bullpen, except for three weeks during the summer when he pitched for Team Israel in the Beijing Olympics. If the Angels send him to Triple-A, he’ll be with Salt Lake.

There Is A Lockout

You’ve probably heard that there is a labor impasse between the MLB owners and the Players Association, resulting in a lockout of the players until a new agreement is negotiated. This has frozen the offseason dealing at the major league level – but not the minors.

The lockout only affects players who are on major league 40-man rosters. The minor league players will continue to play, regardless how long the impasse lasts. The Tacoma Rainiers players will go to minor league spring training in March and play Triple-A West games at Cheney Stadium in April even if the major leagues aren’t back yet.

We’ll have more on this in a few months if it starts to look like the MLB season is going to be delayed, but for now I recommend this battle-tested strategy for people who love baseball when there is a labor disagreement between the owners and players: ignore all public statements from both parties and ignore all articles on the subject until the two sides have hashed out an agreement. Which they will do, eventually. You’ll be happier this way.

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