April 2013

Free Baseball Yesterday, Day Baseball Today

What an odd opening series of the season. 27 planned innings changed to 23. We played 24. Thursday was rained out. That was made up Friday in a 14-inning doubleheader, and then last night nine innings weren’t enough. It took ten innings before Arkansas beat the ‘Riders with a walk-off single in the tenth.

Today Kevin Pucetas makes his debut for Frisco at 2:00 pm from Springdale, Arkansas. A minor-league signee in January, the 28-year-old right-hander spent most of last season at the Double-A level with Harrisburg in Washington Nationals system, pitching one game at the Triple-A Syracuse. Prior to that he spent three seasons at the Triple-A level in the Giants and Royals systems. In his seven minor league seasons he has posted a 61-32 record with a 3.89 ERA.

Lineups:

ROUGHRIDERS

2B Odubel Herrera

SS Hanser Alberto

RF Jared Hoying

1B Brett Nicholas

3B Alex Buchholz

RF Chih-Hsien Chiang

Zach Zaneski

DH Alejandro Selen

CF Teodoro Martinez

RHP Kevin Pucetas

NATURALS

CF Brett Eibner

3B Rey Navarro

DH Brian Fletcher

RF Yem Prades

Manuel Pina

LF Whit Merrifield

1B Mitch Canham

SS Alex McClure

2B Angel Franco

RHP Yordano Ventura

News, notes, thoughts, and links:

Mixing up the card: Hanser Alberto moves up to the #2 spot after two appearances in the #9 hole. Alejandro Selen sees action for the second game. He has still yet to play in the field, DH-ing for the second time. He played 31 games in the outfield last season in Hickory and 15 at second base. Spots 3-6 in the order have stayed the same for all four games (although Chiang and Hoying have played in different outfield positons).

Lights out ‘pen: Jake Brigham continued the ‘Riders scoreless streak out of the bullpen to start the season to 8.2 IP with 2.1 scoreless innings (he did allow an inherited runner to score). Jimmy Reyes made it 10.1 IP before Ross Wolf allowed his inherited runner to score in the bottom of the eighth.

Bullpen all seasoned: The ‘Riders came in to Saturday having used five of the eight men in the bullpen (not including Carlos Pimentel who starts tomorrow). The final three all got the ball at some point in last night’s loss (Brigham, Reyes, and Wolf). When Pucetas throws his first pitch in the bottom of the first from Springdale today, all active pitchers will have seen action. Only Tyler Tufts, who has started the season on the DL, is left.

Mishmash of Mashers: All of the position players have made it in there now. In fact all 12 players got into the doubleheader Friday. Zach Zaneski, who started behind the plate in game one, has just two plate appearances (the team-low) but starts today. Catcher Tomas Telis started game two and three of the season. Odubel Herrera and Jared Hoying lead the team with twelve (11 ABs, 1 BB).

Free Swingin’: Frisco batters have drawn just six walks. Compare that with the 18 walks the pitchers have issued and it looks slightly alarming. The RoughRiders aren’t last in the Texas League in walks, however. Springfield (5) and today’s opponent, NW Arkansas (4) have both taken fewer free passes than Frisco.

Hanser “The Answer”: Credit Alex with the nickname but credit Alberto for producing. After an 0-for-4 start to the year, Alberto whacked two singles in his last two at-bats last night. The first came in the three-hit, two-run seventh inning that gave Frisco a 3-2 lead. Alberto is widely regarded as the best prospect on the ‘Riders roster among position players and is playing for the first time at the Double-A level.

Twitter is great, but LIVE AUDIO IS BETTER: Today’s game can be heard here or if you are on an iPad or iPhone, click here. You can also watch the games with the audio feed simulcast by purchasing a subscription to MiLB.tv.

Game Notes: Edition #4 of the game notes are here! 

- Nathan

Opening Day – Take Two

Okay so let’s try that again. Opening Day in North Little Rock was washed out yesterday. The other three games in the Texas League went off without a hitch, and the South Division dominated the action. All three games went the way of the south yesterday, so Frisco comes into Opening Day back a half-game of the other three members in the division. Midland, Corpus Christi and San Antonio all picked up Opening Day victories. Midland and Frisco begin the season on the road while the other two opened up their seasons at home last night.

The rotation is not expected to change today. Cody Buckel will start game one while former big leaguer Ryan Feierabend opposes the Travelers order in game two. Arkansas counters with Jarrett Grube and Mike Piazza. No, not that one.

Keep an eye on the ‘Riders twitter feed for the latest updates on action from North Little Rock, including the starting lineups for game two, but for now, here is the game one lineup. Just the same as yesterday:

ROUGHRIDERS

2B Odubel Herrera

CF Ryan Strausborger

RF Jared Hoying

1B Brett Nicholas

3B Alex Buchholz

LF Chih-Hsien Chiang

C Zach Zaneski

SS Hanser Alberto

RHP Cody Buckel

 

TRAVELERS

CF Travis Witherspoon

LF Matt Long

3B Kaleb Cowart

1B C.J. Cron

DH Robbie Widlansky

RF Randal Grichuk

2B Taylor Lindsey

C Jett Bandy

SS Rolando Gomez

RHP Jarrett Grube

News, notes, thoughts, and links:

  • The RoughRiders weren’t alone in having weather issues yesterday. Of the four active minor league teams in the Texas system (Spokane and the Rangers AZL and DSL teams pick up in June), only one of them got their opener in.
  • That was Round Rock. The Express topped Omaha 3-1 behind five shut-out innings from soon-to-be Texas Ranger’s 5th starter Nick Tepesch. The former ‘Rider scattered five singles in his five frames and struck out five Stormchasers on the way to the victory in his Triple-A debut. 
  • Hickory (Class-A) and Myrtle Beach (Class-A Advanced) were both rained out yesterday. Unlike Frisco, they will not make up their games today. Hickory will play a twin bill tomorrow beginning at 4:00 CT. Myrtle Beach won’t make up their postponed game until May 25th.
  • An extra long edition of the game notes today, complete with both starting pitchers is available at RidersBaseball.com
  • Tonight’s doubleheader can be heard here or if you are on an iPad or iPhone, click here. You can also watch the games with the audio feed simulcast by purchasing a subscription to MiLB.tv.
  • Frisco finishes the three game set with Arkansas in a full nine-inning contest tomorrow at 6:10 p.m. before getting back on the bus for the 194-mile trek to Springdale, Ark., home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The RoughRiders round out the weekend Sunday with the first of a three game series against NW Arkansas at 2:00 p.m.

Enjoy day two of the season Opening Day! Go ‘Riders!

- Nathan

Welcome Home

The rain has stopped, the clouds have parted, and Rangers baseball is back in Arlington!   Many people will call in sick from work, pull their kids out early from school, and make the drive to the ballpark to welcome our Rangers back home for the 2013 season.  Opening Day is finally here as the Rangers face the LA Angels this afternoon at 1:05.

Ballpark

Today also marks Josh Hamilton’s first return to Rangers Ballpark since leaving for LA.  This return has sparked a number of reactions by Rangers fans, especially after remarks made by Hamilton questioning the loyalty of DFW baseball fans.

I am personally on the edge of my seat waiting to know how Josh will be received at today’s game.  Will the stadium erupt in boos?  Will there be cheers for the once-adored All-Star?  Or will he receive the silent treatment, getting little acknowledgement from the fans of his former team?

More than likely, there will be a combination of all three.  There are a number of fans who feel Hamilton leaving the Rangers and the way he left was a betrayal, and boos will be heard throughout the stadium.  Others will try to look past the hurt feelings and the tension, and cheer.  However, the hope for many is that there will be silence, no boos or cheers, proving Rangers fans stand strongly behind their team and can move past the tensions from the last few months.

Hamilton

Regardless of how Hamilton’s reception plays out, the fact is today is the Rangers Home Opener.  The day Rangers fans have been looking forward to is finally here.  Enjoy it and look forward to many enjoyable days and nights at the ballpark!

 Other notes from the week:

-The Rangers began the season this past Sunday on the road in Houston.  Despite dropping the first game of the series 2-8 in the Astros’ first game in the American League, the Rangers came back to win the series in back-to-back shutouts.

Yu Darvish was one strike away from pitching a perfect game in Game 2, tallying a career-high 14 strikeouts.  Former RoughRider Alexi Ogando also had a career-high 10 strikeouts in Game 3. In total, the Rangers had 43 strikeouts, the most by a major-league team in the first three games of the season, breaking the mark set by the 1966 Cleveland Indians.

-Elvis Andrus is in Texas for a while.  The 24-year-old shortstop announced Thursday that he signed an eight-year contract extension, securing him at least through 2018 (he has an opt-out in his contract at that point).

Where was Nolan Ryan?  At Thursday’s press conference announcing Andrus’ contract extension, Ryan was noticeably absent.  This only fueled the curiosities of his future with the Rangers.  It was reported later that Nolan attended the Round Rock Express season opener.

What does the future hold for Jurickson Profar?  With the Elvis Andrus contract extension, the future for Rangers’ top prospect Profar is up in the air.  The former RoughRider, will be in Round Rock this season, but playing the same position as Andrus brings questions regarding the 20-year-old’s future.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Parachute Hitter – another term for a singles hitter

RoughRiders bring exciting changes to food and beverage at Dr Pepper Ballpark

The ‘Riders home opener is less than a week away, coming next Thursday against the Arkansas Travelers at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The gates will open to all the lovely sights, sounds and smells of baseball: the perfectly manicured infield and outfield grass, players flinging the ball in warm-ups, the bustle and chatter of fans and, of course, the smell of ballpark food.

The RoughRiders poured in over $1 million in concessions this off-season into Dr Pepper Ballpark, upgrading and refreshing food and beverage options for the approximately half-a-million fans expected to pass through the gates this season.

Find out what is in the “Firecracker” hot dog and more at RidersBaseball.com.

- Nathan

Opening Day Game Notes

Opening Day is upon us! Hot off the press is edition number one of this year’s game notes: click here for game notes (.pdf).

Cody Buckel gets the start for Frisco at Dickey-Stevens Park against the Arkansas Travelers. One of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the Rangers organization, Buckel enters the season as the highest ranked prospect in the Texas system on the RoughRiders Opening Day roster. Baseball America lists him 8th in the Texas system, Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com tabs him 4th (and 87th in all of baseball), Keith Law at ESPN.com puts him 3rd (and 90th overall), John Sickles considers Buckel 4th while Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus has him missing the cut of the top ten prospects in the Rangers organization.

Tonight's starting pitcher Cody Buckel, just 20 years of age

Tonight’s starting pitcher Cody Buckel, just 20 years of age

Weather update from Little Rock – 11 a.m.

Good morning and happy Opening Day from Little Rock, Arkansas!  The team arrived at the hotel at about 8:45 last night, which might be the earliest we get to a hotel all season before a game so the guys should be well rested.  A bit of sour news greeted us all here when we woke up, as it has been steadily raining all morning.  The good news is that it looks like things should dry up a bit this afternoon and, if the weather cooperates with the forecast, we should be able to play ball tonight at Dickey-Stephens Park.  The great news is that we should have completely clear skies for each of the final two nights of this first series.  I’ll keep you updated, but in the mean time start practicing your anti-rain dance in case things get a little dodgy later on.

- Alex

Yu Never Know

Opening Day sure is exciting, but man Game Two can be entertaining.

We still have tomorrow’s RoughRiders Opening Day against the Travelers to hype (including the 2013 debut of Cody Buckel), but I couldn’t help but be excited for game two already. By then, the dust has settled. The Opening Day jitters have worn off, and yet it’s still baseball. Something amazing and historic can always happen, and strangely, it so often does. Or nearly does.

Frisco’s starting pitcher for game two of the season? Ryan Feierabend. Interestingly enough, the former big leaguer has pitched the same number of times at Minute Maid Park as Darvish–once (back in 2007). Neither allowed a run.

Well…we will see you Friday in North Little Rock. Thursday and Friday (well, and Saturday too I suppose).  Yu never know what will happen.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: Agate - another term for the baseball. 

Meet the Press – 2013 Edition

We’re just a few days away from the start of another baseball season and, even though Tuesday night’s “Future Rangers Showcase” was rained out, everyone here at the RoughRiders is excited to start our 11th season.  Over the next five months, you’ll be a seeing a lot of new and interesting stuff in this space as we help you stay up to date with the team and let you get to know the players a little better.  I’ll be keeping you up to date with news from the road the best I can, but since I won’t be the only one you’ll hear from, it’s only proper to introduce to you the other members of our blog team for the 2013 season.  In addition to contributing here, Nathan Barnett will join me on the radio broadcasts this season while Ryan Garrett will be helping us run things up in the press box.  Since they will undoubtedly do a better job writing about themselves than I can (a hiring prerequisite), I’ll turn it over to Nathan and Ryan so that they may introduce themselves in their own words (if you want to read a far less interesting introduction of yours truly, you may do so here, even if it is not recommended).

- Alex

Nathan Barnett

The ever-present construction and stop-and-go traffic of I-30. The Dallas North Tollway exit from I-35, curving left over the grandstands of Reverchon Ballfield. The northbound Tollway exit at Royal Lane. The most herky-jerky moments during my ride back from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (then simply known as the Ballpark in Arlington) that woke me from my slumber that had become oh-so-routine.

With heavy eyelids and a grumpy moan I woke from my slumber only to realize that waking wasn’t so bad. The cordial narrative coming from the radio, the smooth voice of Eric Nadel, reminded me that baseball was around me. My interrupted slumber caved way to pleasant surprise.

Maybe it was the waning moments of the game: a Jeff Zimmerman punch-out, a heroic whack from Pudge, or a miraculous feat by Rusty Greer or what was left of the Arlington faithful still screaming their voices hoarse.

Perhaps it was a highlight: “that ball is history,” punctuated at least once in the postgame show. If not twice. Or more (as often was the case with those mid 90s Rangers teams). A familiar and comfortable voice reminding me of the great night that was at the Ballpark, retold as if it was happening all over again—like I was there in my seat, when in reality, I was stuck at a red light at Royal Ln and Preston Rd in the back seat of my dad’s sedan.

Nathan can hardly look away from the action on the field at the SCCBL Championship Series.

Nathan can hardly look away from the action on the field at the SCCBL Championship Series.

I didn’t realize it until I was a college senior, slamming down my LSAT Prep book—never to be opened again (it still sits, dusty and somehow lightly stained on my bookshelf at home)—that it was in that thirty-or-so minute car-ride back home, on a school night, when nine innings was almost never in the cards for a young boy of thoughtful parents, that I found a certain romance in calling a baseball game. That feeling of bringing someone the game.

No, more than that: of bringing someone to the game, away from everything else. Away from the bills, and the traffic and stress of everyday life for someone who doesn’t have the time, money or energy to make it to yard themselves.  That is what I find so rewarding about what I (somehow) get paid to do.

This business can be crazy. In all the madness that is working in sports—working  100-hour weeks, pushing out  100 sales calls a day, sleeping on floors and even in dining rooms, broadcasting with the flu, calling games cramped two people to a three-foot wide table, staring at a computer on overnight bus trips—everything melts away when that pitcher toes the rubber for the first time and the batter kicks up the chalk of the box in the first.

One of my first mentors in sports once told me “working in sports beats working.” Getting to do the most fun thing I can imagine within sports—well, it is truly indescribable for me.

With this privilege comes obligation: I hope to bring you to the game not just bring you the game.

And here on the blog, I hope we can all bring you closer to the players, the coaches and to us, so that when and if you do tune in to Alex and/or myself on the air this season, the insights and information this forum can provide help attain that goal.

Who knows, maybe we too can feel like the comfortable and familiar voice I heard riding home, with droopy eyes, hearing my role model bring me back to the ballpark.

Or maybe in reading this here, we just get the occasional chuckle out of you. Or tweet. I sure would love that too.

- Nathan

Ryan Garrett

As a kid growing up in Roswell, NM, baseball was the one sport that I enjoyed playing.  I was never the fastest runner, the best hitter (though I did hit the lone grand-slam of my 1999 little league team), or never was really competitive or athletic, but I loved the game and I loved spending time with my dad, who served as an assistant coach.

Through the years, especially after moving with my family to the Dallas area in 1998, my lack of athletic talent forced me to realize I was a better fit for watching the games, being an excited fan in the stands or in the comfort of my own home.

I’ve lived the majority of my life in nearby Rockwall, TX, active with school, church and a local boy scout troop.  As a 6th grader, music became my passion and I began to play the clarinet.  Through high school, I rooted on my Rockwall Yellowjackets as a member of the marching band, and was also the editor of the school newspaper.  It was through the high school paper that I found my love for writing and journalism.

A couple of Baylor Bears making sweet music.

A couple of Baylor Bears making sweet music.

I began my first two years of college life in an unusual way, becoming a member of the Corps of Cadets at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell (alma mater to Dallas Cowboys great Roger Staubach).  At NMMI, I studied journalism and continued my music career, playing clarinet in Headquarters Troop, Regimental Band.

After graduating from junior college, I followed in the footsteps of my parents, sister and 20-plus other relatives, attending Baylor University, majoring in Journalism & Public Relations.  I donned the uniform of the Baylor Golden Wave Band, and proudly had a front-row seat during RG3’s 2011 Heisman season, the 2012 National Champion Lady Bears’ 40-0 season, and a tremendous “Year of the Bear” in Baylor sports.

Through marching band, my love for sports has grown tremendously. I enjoy watching all sports, cheering on my Baylor Bears, Texas Rangers, Houston Texans and Washington Redskins (RG3).  I graduated from Baylor this past December, and started work with the RoughRiders as the Media Intern in February.  I love the game of baseball, and I look forward to this season with the ‘Riders, writing articles, blog postings and game stories and spending game days at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

- Ryan

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