Day two of my Tacoma Rainiers spring training trip was much more satisfying than the first day, with dry skies allowing the action on the backfields of the Peoria Sports Complex to proceed as scheduled on Thursday.
The Rainiers made the long road trip across the complex – a good five minute walk – to face the Padres organization on their side. Tacoma squared off against El Paso, while on a nearby field the Double-A affiliates played each another.
Tacoma’s lineup to start the game was as follows: Leo Rivas, Evan White, Zach DeLoach, Robert Perez Jr., Logan Warmoth, Kean Wong, Jake Anchia, Robbie Tenerowicz, Tanner Kirwer, and Josh Morgan. The top three hitters, plus No. 5 and 6, are all inked onto my projected opening day roster. The others are all “in the mix” except for Perez, who seems destined for Double-A Arkansas.
Astute readers will note that we started with a ten-man lineup. Minor league spring training rules were in effect, which means that there weren’t many rules at all. The whole object of the event is to get players real-game experience without the confines of a regular season game.
Darren McCaughan started for Tacoma, while El Paso countered with veteran Humberto Castellanos. Both starters were in fine form.
McCaughan lasted 5.2 innings, allowing three hits and one run. He walked to and struck out four.
Both of his walks occurred after the third out of the inning had already been recorded. If an inning is really short, they’ll have a pitcher face another batter or two even if there are already three outs. This happened to McCaughan twice yesterday: the second inning was the most extreme, when he got three outs on just four pitches. They had him stay out for another batter, who he walked, and then another hitter after that who he retired for the fourth out of the inning.
All told, McCaughan appeared to be in mid-season form. He’s stretched out for a proper start, his pitches looked crisp to me, and his command was good. He’s certainly a candidate for the Rainiers opening day start, but the days don’t line up for proper rest. He does line up to possibly start the home opener.
The Rainiers got on the scoreboard in the fourth. Evan White drew a leadoff walk, Zach DeLoach pulled a ground ball single to right, and Robert Perez Jr. singled sharply to load the bases. White scored on a Kean Wong ground out.
DeLoach factored into it again in the sixth inning, smoking an opposite-field double that one-hopped the left field wall with one out. He scored on a two-out single by Logan Warmoth, which gave the Rainiers a 2-1 lead.
El Paso took the lead in the bottom of the sixth with a pair of runs against reliever Jose Rodriguez. Rodriguez bounced back and delivered a scoreless seventh, even recording a fourth out just for extra work.
The game was tied in the eighth when Spencer Packard launched a solo homer to right field, the only dinger of the game. Packard hit 12 homers in a half-season at Class-A Everett last year, and figures to play at Arkansas this season.
Rainiers reliever JB Bukauskas pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Rainiers did not score in the top of the ninth, and then El Paso walked it off with an RBI double off lefty Blake Weiman in the bottom of the ninth. Or did they? The two teams had agreed ahead of time to play ten innings, so the game kept going for one more frame. It was a walkoff that didn’t end the game.
Purely from an observational perspective, the Rainiers appear to be ready to start the season. The game was clean, even in very windy conditions. Pace was good, defense was good, the pitchers looked sharp.
Interestingly, the game was managed/coached by the Double-A staff. Tacoma’s coaching staff is still in big league camp, which is unusual for this late in spring.
There were a couple roster moves yesterday;
Re-Assigned To Minor League Camp
Catcher: Jacob Nottingham
Infielder: Jake Scheiner
Outfielder: Leonys Martin
Martin is 35-years-old and this might be the end of his playing career – but it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he is coaching soon, he is well-liked and still has a great positive attitude after all these years.
As for Nottingham and Scheiner, the Rainiers seamstress can start sewing the nameplates on the jerseys.
Today the Rainiers face Round Rock (Texas Rangers) at the Peoria complex. I fly home afterwards and will get a new post up about that game sometime this weekend.
- The Mariners players who are new to the pitch clock are figuring out how to use it to their advantage.
- Seattle blasted former prospect Brandon Williamson and the Reds in a Cactus League game last night.
- Here’s more on Leonys Martin.
- In the PCL, Steve Klauke – voice of the Salt Lake Bees since they rejoined the league in 1994 – announced that this will be his final season behind the mic.