Professional baseball in Sacramento means
the Sacramento River
Cats, one of the
winningest professional clubs in all of minor league baseball.
The River Cats are members of
the Pacific Coast League and the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland
To read an early
history of the River Cats, go here.
Traded Five Times in Past Year, Lars Anderson Lands with
By Editor, Rick Cabral
For professional ballplayers, making that
final jump from Triple-A to the big leagues—and sticking—can be the toughest hurdle.
But few have been on the roller coaster
ride like Lars Anderson (Jesuit) over the past year:
five different organizations in seven months.
This time last year Anderson was in
Triple-A with Pawtucket. In late April the Boston Red Sox called him up for the third time in
three years. Realistically, he knew the odds were against unseating first baseman Adrian
Gonzalez, but still he hoped to impress. In his first appearance on April 24 at Minnesota’s
Target Field he pinch hit for Gonzalez in the eighth inning, singled and eventually scored.
Soon after, Boston sent the 6’4”
left-hander back to Triple-A. Most guys would have muttered something that rhymed with
Pawtucket. But Anderson, who admits to embracing Eastern philosophies (and we don’t mean New
Hampshire), took a breath and rededicated himself.
In 96 games with the junior Red Sox, Lars
managed only a .259 batting average. Then on July 31, the Red Sox traded Anderson to the
Cleveland Indians, which assigned him to their Triple-A Columbus team. Given only 69 trips to
the plate, he finished under .200.
In mid-December, the 25-year-old was
involved in a three-team trade in which Cleveland sent him and another player to Arizona for
three players, one of which included right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer.
Before reporting to spring training with
the Diamondbacks, Anderson was placed on waivers and picked up by the Chicago White Sox. Three
weeks later, before one swing of the bat, the Sox designated him for assignment. Toronto scooped
up the first-baseman/outfielder off the waiver wire.
Although he hit .357 with two home runs in
14 at-bats this spring, the Blue Jays—who were loaded with seasoned veterans from off-season
trades—optioned Anderson to their Triple-A Buffalo team.
Then on April 1, the White Sox reversed
course and purchased Anderson’s contract from the Blue Jays.
By this point, most guys’ heads would be
spinning, not knowing what organization or state they were playing in. But Anderson hung
“The first time was really crazy. All
trades are jolting in their own respect,” Anderson says. “But the last two times it was like
Are you kidding me?”
No doubt the rigors of that Jesuit
secondary education—and having played in Joe
Potulny’s suffer-no-fools Marauders system—girded Lars Anderson through the challenging
Chicago optioned him to their Triple-A
Charlotte Knights of the International League. But on the day he was reacquired by the ChiSox,
he tweaked his right hamstring and was placed on the 7-day disabled list. Meantime, the team’s
other first baseman Seth Loman is well established and batting .351 with three
Insult to injury.
Anderson is making sure the hamstring is
healed before returning to live action. “It’s not an injury you want to have nagging you.”
Then he goes to work proving to the White
Sox—and himself—he deserves another shot at the majors.
Zach Green (Jesuit), who the Phillies selected in the third round of the MLB
draft, is in extended spring training at Clearwater, Florida. According to Joey Davis, the Phillies
scout who signed Zach (and gave him the $420,000 bonus plus money for college) Green will report to
the team's Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters (New York-Penn League) this summer after the 2013
Last summer in 47 games with the Rookie Gulf Coast League Phillies, Zach batted .284 with three
home runs and 21 runs batted in.
A couple of local catching prospects will be playing in Double-A this season.
The Giants promoted Andrew Susac (Jesuit/Oregon State) to the Richmond Flying
Squirrels, where he started the season hitting at a .300 clip. The Giants took Susac in the second
round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Along with Susac, the Giants called up Joe Panik, their #1 round selection from 2011 and Ricky
Oropesa. All three last year played at Single-A San Jose Giants.
Meantime, in February, the Athletics traded Max Stassi (Yuba City High) Chris
Carter and Brad Peacock to the Houston Astros for infielder Jed Lowrie and rel.iever Fernando
Rodriguez. Lowrie is already having an impact in Oakland where he won the starting job at second
base, which sent Jemile Weeks packing to the River Cats.
Last year at Single-A Stockton, Stassi battled injuries, but posted a .268 batting average with
15 home runs, 18 doubles and 45 RBIs in 84 games, and according to Astros management had a terrific
season in the Arizona Fall League. They brought him to spring training as a non-roster trainee, and
while there he developed a sports hernia.
Stassi underwent an operation and is recovering at the Astros facility at Kissimmee, Florida.
When healthy, he will report to their Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks of the Texas League. Oakland
took Stassi in the fourth round of the 2009 draft but paid him first-round money with a $1.5
millions signing bonus.
Max's older brother Brock Stassi (Yuba City High/Nevada) also earned a
promotion this winter as the Phillies designated him for Class-A Advanced Clearwater Threshers of
the Florida State League.
Pitcher Martin Agosta (Jesuit/St. Mary's College) is off to a good start with
the Giants' Single-A Augusta GreenJackets in the South Atlantic League. In his first start of the
season, Agost pitched five shutout innings, allowed four hits and no walks while striking out nine
as his team won 4-0.
The Giants took Agosta last year in the second round of the draft.
Cats Scratch and Claw for First Win of Year, 8-4 Over Las
Under cloudy Sacramento skies, River Cats pitcher Sonny
Gray sparkled on the mound as the River Cats claimed their first win of
the year, beating Las Vegas 8-4.
Using his 93 mph fastball and a sharp-breaking over-the-top curve, the
stocky right-hander dazzled the 51s through six shutout innings, allowing only
two hits and three walks while striking out four. When Gray departed in the
sixth inning Sacramento held a 2-0 lead.
Cats reliever Brian Gordon promptly gave up two earned runs in
the top of the seventh allowing Las Vegas to tie the game. Sacramento answered
with six runs in their half of the inning, built around a Michael Choice grand slam, his first home run
of the year. Michael Taylor followed
with a solo shot, his second of the season. Catcher Stephen Vogt
another round tripper.
Vegas added two more runs in the eighth inning off Sacramento reliever
Hidecki Okajima. Pitcher Dan Otero shut the
door in the ninth to preserve the 8-4 win.
went 3x4 with two doubles and two RBI, while second baseman Jemile
Weeks went 3x5.
Weeks started the scoring in the third inning when he led off and
dropped a pearl of a bunt up the third base line. With Grant
Green at the plate, manager Steve Scarsone called for
a hit-and-run, and Green delivered a double to the left field wall, scoring
Weeks and giving Sacramento a 1-0 lead.
Weeks is hitting .353 for the season, as is
Gordon earned a blown save for his effort in the seventh inning, but
also claimed the victory. Rightfully, it belonged to Sonny Gray, who impressed
in just his second start at the Triple-A level.
year at Double-A Midland, Texas, Gray went 6-9 with a 4.14 ERA in 148 innings.
He struck out 97 and walked 57. Taken by Oakland with the 18th pick
in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Vanderbilt University, Gray led
his school to its first-ever College World Series appearance in 2011, going 12-4
with a 2.43 ERA.
Sacramento opens a four-game home stand against the Tacoma
Rainiers on Monday.
Joe DiMaggio had his 56-game hitting streak.
Hall of Fame scribe Nick Peters owned a 55-game streak of
appearing at and in most cases covering Opening Day for the San Francisco Giants.
Peters' streak came to an end today, as we learned by John Shea's
tweet, he of the SF Chronicle Sports staff and Peters' long-time friend.
Peters has a degenerative disease similar to Parkinson's Disease and its
worsening. Hence, Nick had to forego Opening Day in 2013. But we're sure he watched
on television, along with wife, Lise in their Elk Grove home. The Giants, behind
Barry Zito's 3-hit, seven-inning gem, shut out the Cardinals at
AT&T Park 1-0.
The La Salle Club Hall of Fame has elected Nick Peters and he will be inducted
on April 27 as part of the 2013 class. For the other eight inductees, see list
To read our 2012 Spotlight feature on
Peters, go here.
Today marks the opening of major league baseball in both leagues.
The World Series champions Giants travel to Los Angeles to battle their bitter
rivals at 1:10 p.m. The defending AL West A's meanwhile host the Seattle Mariners
(Game time 7:05).
And 93 years ago the Sacramento Senators hosted the Seattle Mariners at Buffalo
Park (also known as Recreation Park) in a Pacific Coast League opener.
Local video producer and baseball historian Chris Lango has
assembled a two-minute video culled from home movies taken on that opening day down
at the ballyard at at Riverside and Broadway (now Target). We invite you to check
out this wonderful old film, complete with an old-time rendition of "Take Me Out to
the Ballgame" in the background. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHH9xIyd6CU
As you look out at the yard realize this: just five months earlier Babe
Ruth had played in this very ballpark as part of a traveling exhibition
with Buck Weaver of the Chicago White Sox. That period was
critical as Ruth would soon be sold by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees.
And Weaver that season would be ensnared in the infamous Black Sox Scandal. To read
more about that barnstorming game in Sacramento baseball, go to our Time Travelin 1919
There aren't many from the Capital City area playing in the
World Baseball Classic, but the Giants' Tyler LaTorre (UC Davis
2006) is one. He's playing for Team Italy, which dropped its first game yesterday
to Team USA, 6-2.
In the second inning La Torre singled off fellow Giant Ryan
Vogelsong and scored, going 1x4. He caught the entire game. Vogelsong pitched four
strong innings to earn the victory.
During his seven-years in the Giants farm system, La Torre
has played a number of positions with catcher his central spot. He caught 42 games
for Triple-A Fresno last year, batting a respectable .278.
Another familiar name in the WBC is Larry
Bowa, who once again is serving as USA coach Joe Torre's assistant (bench
coach), where he leads the team in wisecrackin' and spittin'. Bowa, who prepped at
McClatchy, but never played there, has a long and illustrious career in the major
leagues, including a World Series ring with the Philadelphia Phillies. To read more
about Bowa, go to the Spotlight feature we did
on his sister, Paula Graf.
Also, at noon today you can pick up single-game tickets at
the Raley Field Ticket Window. The River Cats are featuring free tours of the park,
plus a number of fun activities.
"The Natural" To Air on MLB
The movie "The Natural will air next Monday at 6:30 on MLB Network. Bob Costas
will interview director Barry Levinson in the preceding hour, beginning at 5:30
For those who have not seen the "director's cut" of The Natural, it's definitely
a must see. Levinson added 15 minutes and completely recut the first third of the
movie, starring Robert Redford in the title role.
Miami Clinic PED-Scandal "Black Eye for Baseball" -- Larry
Today on the MLB Network, television analyst Larry Bowa (McClatchy High)
commented on the unfolding saga regarding the allegation that several prominent
Major League Baseball players are tied to Biogenesis of America LLC, a Miami-based
"It's a black eye for baseball again," Bowa said. "It's sad. You question when a
guy has a great year now. Instead of saying 'This guy is a real good player,' I'm
wondering if he's legit. And it shouldn't be like that."
The current penalties are not stiff enough, Bowa maintains. He recommends after
the first offense the player be suspended for one year and forfeit any pay earned
to that point. After a second offense, the player should be banned from baseball,
with no possibility of returning to active status.
Bowa, voted the third best player to come out of Sacramento by a panel of local
experts, played 16 seasons for the Phillies, Cubs and Mets and won a World Series
in 1980 with the Phillies.
Tom Verducci has written extensively on the subject for Sports Illustrated.
Happy Birthday, Jackie Robinson
Baseball Writers Pitch Shutout--Hall of Fame Admits No
One in 2013
Bonds and Clemens Barred for PED Stain
by editor Rick Cabral
For the first time since 1996 and only the eighth time in history the Baseball
Writers Association of America didn't vote anyone in to the National Baseball Hall
First timer Craig Biggio led all on the ballot with 68 percent, falling just
seven percent or 39 votes short of reaching the threshold.
Once certain future Hall of Famers Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were not voted
in despite their illustrious careers due to their association with Performance
Enhancing Drugs (PED). In a surprise, Clemens received just 38 percent while Bonds
netted 36 percent of the vote, far short of the requisite to get in. Baseball
analysts were predicting Bonds and Clemens would generate nearly 50 percent of the
Right behind Biggio was pitcher Jack Morris (68 percent) who has just one year
of eligibility remaining.
The voting also included:
Jeff Bagwell (60 percent)
Mike Piazza (58 percent)
Tim Raines (52 percent)
Lee Smith (48 percent)
Curt Schilling (39 percent)
Fred McGriff (21 percent)
Dale Murphy (19 percent)
Mark McGwire (17 percent)
Sammy Sosa (12.5 percent)
On MLB.tv, where the voting results were announced, the panel considered whether
the 36/38 percent tally was a significant punishment to Bonds-Clemens respectively.
Commentator Bob Costas, conflating his pronouns, noted "Under other circumstances,
including if he retired in 1998 and didn't add to your total, you get 100-percent
of the vote. Now, you get a third: that's a pretty strong kick in the ass."
In a local angle, Hall of Fame baseball writer Nick Peters told BaseballSacramento.com
last spring he intended to vote for Bonds, despite the PED connection. Peters said
his fellow writers would no doubt snub Bonds on the first ballot, but that he
believed eventually they would relent and vote in the home run record holder (762
career and 73 home runs in the 2001 season).
Today's results, however, portend a long slog for the Giants' former slugger and
To read a reaction from Giants' president Larry Baer, go here.
All contents © Rick Cabral,