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It’s Go Time…

Plenty of news to pass along on the unofficial first day of baseball season.  Every year when I hear that stupid “One Shining Moment” song I know baseball season is finally here.  That goofiness is the corniest, most overrated thing in sports, and I like college basketball.  But I digress.  Spring Training is wrapping up and we have plenty of nuggets to pass along in today’s notebook on what we’ve been blogging about over the winter, and a couple miscellaneous tidbits.  Ready?…GO!

  • The Arizona Diamondbacks have placed RHP Mike DeMark with the Triple-A Reno Aces in the Pacific Coast League.
  • The Texas Rangers have placed OF Val Majewski with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders in the Texas League.
  • Vince Harrison will head to the Class A West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League as a member of their coaching staff.  He was hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league coach this offseason.
  • Keoni DeRenne will spend the next couple months at Pittsburgh’s spring training facility in Bradenton, FL as an instructor for extended spring training, before joining the coaching staff of the Pirates Gulf Coast League team.  That Florida Rookie League begins in June following the draft, and is comprised of mostly first year pros coming out of high school and very young international players.  The teams play at the various Grapefruit League sites throughout the summer.  DeRenne was also hired by the Pirates as a MiLB coach in the offseason.
  • A Rev briefly for just 11 games in 2010, lefty reliever Justin Hampson spent this spring in Mets camp, appearing in Major League games.  He is likely destined for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons of the International League, where he pitched in 52 games last season out of the bullpen.  Hampson earned big league time in 2006 (Colorado, five games), 2007 (San Diego, 39 games) and 2008 (San Diego, 35 games) and may have a shot to pitch in New York this year.  Here’s a video interview with Hampson done in St. Lucie, by Buffalo’s broadcaster, Ben Wagner.
  • The York Dispatch is reporting former Revolution Manager Chris Hoiles will be catching the first pitch at the Orioles home opener on Friday against the Twins.  This season, believe it or not, is the 20th Baltimore will play at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  Rick Sutcliffe will throw out the first pitch, because he pitched the first game at the then new ballpark two decades ago, and five-hit the Indians in a 2-0 win.  Hoiles caught him that day as well, so it’s a pretty cool idea to reunite that battery on Opening Day for the 20th anniversary.  Hoiles went 1-for-3 with an RBI double in that game in 1992.  Time flies.
  • And now for Scott Rice.  He is still in the running for the Dodgers final Major League bullpen spot, a decision which must be made by Manager Don Mattingly in the next 24 to 48 hours.  The southpaw is competing with righty Josh Lindblom for the spot, a race Mattingly called even yesterday.  In a previous post I predicted Rice would start at Triple-A Albuquerque but make his MLB debut sometime this season.  Although this will go down to the final day, I’ll stick with that for now.  What concerns me is not only did Lindblom log significant big league time last season in L.A., but he also pitched very well.  (29.2 IP, 28 K, 2.73 ERA).  But apparently it’s still 50/50 at this point.  In Rice’s favor, if the Dodgers do assign him to Triple-A, they’d only have one big league lefty (Scott Elbert) coming out of the pen.  In most cases, you’d want at least two.

Here is another feature story on Rice, courtesy of Joe McDonnell of Fox Sports West.  Here’s the best excerpt if you’re in a hurry:

“This would obviously be a dream come true for me,” Rice said before the first game of the exhibition Freeway Series between the Dodgers and Angels Monday night at Angels’ Stadium. “I grew up here and I went to so many games at Dodger Stadium that it would be amazing if my first big league game was there.

“It’s all pretty exciting.”

Which it was supposed to be all along for the Baltimore Orioles’ first-round pick.

His first full season as a reliever was 2003, and it looked like he found his niche, going 5-4 with five saves and a 1.83 ERA. He even got a call-up from the Orioles in 2006, but never made it to Baltimore.
He broke his finger after closing it in a hotel room door the night before he was supposed to report to the majors. That basically ended his career with the Orioles, and Rice found himself in the Texas Rangers organization in 2007.

I’ve beaten this point to death by now, but with all the circumstances surrounding Rice, including the finger in the door thing and the chance to pitch for the team of his childhood, what a remarkable story this will be when he makes his MLB debut, if it’s not in a few days.  What a thrill it will be for Rice just being in Dodger Stadium as part of the team Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon, when the Dodgers take on the Angels in games two and three of the exhibiton Freeway Series.  The Dodgers dropped game one last night in Anaheim 12-3, and Rice did not get into the game.  Hopefully, although it’s only an exhibition game, he makes his Dodger debut sometime in the next two days.  (They’ll still play game three at Dodger Stadium even if the Angels take the series by winning game two, Rice will likely pitch in one of them.)  I believe it’s the baseball story of the spring.

-Paul Braverman


One response

  1. Scott Rice made his first appearance in a big league ballpark last night, tossing the eighth inning of the Dodgers 4-1 victory over the Angels at Dodger Stadium, evening up the exhibition Freeway Series at a game apiece. The deciding game three is this afternoon, also at Chavez Ravine. Rice allowed two hits and a walk, but did not surrender a run in the appearance. What a thrill it must’ve been to finally pitch in an MLB park, let alone his hometown Dodger Stadium.

    April 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

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