Results tagged ‘ Steve Buechele ’

The Dandy Dozen: The ‘Riders Turn 12

It's shaping up to be another great summer at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

It’s shaping up to be another great summer at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

This article originally appeared in the March 21 edition of SportsPage Weekly, which is a free publication available throughout the Metroplex.  To view the article in the online edition, click here.

There are very few “sure things” in life, but when it comes to local sports and entertainment options, the Frisco RoughRiders are just about as close to a sure thing as you can get.  Year after year, Dr Pepper Ballpark hosts exciting baseball action, premium prospects and fun for the whole family.  Ask anyone who has ever been to a RoughRiders game and they’ll tell you how memorable the experience is.

It’s almost hard to believe, but the RoughRiders will soon begin their 12th season on April 3 at home against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals affiliate).  In honor of a dozen years of Frisco baseball, we present the top 12 reasons to catch the RoughRiders in action this season at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

#12 – A winning tradition

Everybody loves a winner.   And over the past decade the RoughRiders have been one of the most consistent winners in Minor League Baseball.  In 2013, Frisco finished with a 70-70 record, its eighth consecutive season with a .500 or better mark on the ledger.  The last time Frisco finished with a losing record was the only time in team history: back in 2005, when the team finished 58-82.  The streak of non-losing seasons is by far the longest in the Texas League; every other team in the circuit has had at least one losing season in the last three years.  The streak is the longest in Double-A and the third-longest among all 120 full-season minor league clubs, exceeded only by the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats (11 straight non-losing seasons) and the Advanced-A San Jose Giants (ten).  Including teams that play in short-season leagues, Frisco’s streak is the sixth longest; the Elizabethton Twins (25), Brooklyn Cyclones (13) and AZL Giants (13) have the longest such streaks in stateside Minor League Baseball.

#11 – History in the making

Baseball fans appreciate the sport’s history and tradition, and the Texas League plays an important role in the lineage of the game. The RoughRiders and their fans belong to a storied Texas League pedigree that dates back to 1888 (the American League was founded in 1901). A game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is more than just a chance to contribute to baseball’s history; it affords fans the opportunity to witness history as it happens. Notable Texas League alumni span the generations and include Major League Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Dizzy Dean, Joe Morgan and Whitey Herzog. It is a legacy furthered by many stars in the game today who also enjoyed success in the Texas League. Current Rangers Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus had All-Star seasons in the Texas League in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Outside the organization, an impressive crop of recent alumni continue to cultivate the Texas League brand as their big league careers flourish. The Texas League footprint extends across the Major League map and features young stars Mike Trout, Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn, Jean Segura and numerous others.

#10 – Rehabbing Rangers

Matt Harrison was one of 13 rehabbers who played with the 'Riders in 2013.

Matt Harrison was one of 13 rehabbers who played with the ‘Riders in 2013.

Players, coaches and fans dislike injuries, but they remain an inevitable component of any professional game. For a major league club, the inconvenience of an in-season malady is lessened—somewhat—when an affiliate team plays in the neighborhood. No one in Frisco hopes for a rehab assignment, but when a Rangers’ regular tweaks a calf or strains a wrist, Dr Pepper Ballpark provides a two-fold benefit for both the player and the fan. Players can stay in the Metroplex to nurse an injury and play in an atmosphere that approximates a big league ballgame. On the other hand, fans receive a unique opportunity to view their favorite Rangers in a more intimate setting and at an affordable cost. A total of 13 Rangers players donned a RoughRiders’ cap for a rehab assignment in 2013, including pitcher Matt Harrison, who unfortunately started as many games for Frisco (two) as he did for Texas. Rehab assignments rarely occur with much forewarning, but thanks to Derek Holland’s dog, Wrigley, the southpaw has likely already booked a stint with the RoughRiders in 2014. Make sure you’re in the stands when the Rangers’ rehabbers visit Dr Pepper Ballpark.

#9 – A new skipper

For the first time in five years, someone other than Steve Buechele will write out Frisco’s lineup card.  With Buechele managing the Rangers’ Triple-A club this season, Jason Wood steps into the role for the RoughRiders in 2014.  Wood, a five-year major leaguer and veteran of 18 professional seasons as a player, will begin his fourth season as a manager in the Texas farm system.  The 44-year-old spent the previous three years as the skipper for Advanced-A Myrtle Beach.  He led the Pelicans to the playoffs in all three campaigns and looks to get the ’Riders back to the postseason this year.  While Wood is a fresh face in the dugout, the rest of his coaching staff will remain in place from the last two seasons.  Jeff Andrews returns as the team’s pitching coach following a season in which Frisco’s hurlers collectively set numerous team records.  This past offseason, Andrews was honored the co-recipient of the Rangers’ annual Bobby Jones Player Development Man of the Year award.  Jason Hart will begin his third season as Frisco’s hitting coach and his instruction has been lauded for helping former RoughRiders Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Leury Garcia, Chris McGuiness and Engel Beltre all reach the major leagues over the past two seasons.

#8 – Affordability

One of the charms of Minor League Baseball is getting a big league experience without paying a premium price.  RoughRiders games are no different because the team strives to make sure everyone can afford to watch games at Dr Pepper Ballpark.  It can be a major strain on the wallet to attend other professional sporting events.  The average cost for a family of four to attend a Major League Baseball game is approximately $208; for an NFL game that number is $444, with the NBA checking in at $442 and the NHL at $355.  That figure for a Minor League Baseball game?  Just $61.  With RoughRiders tickets starting at just $7 (less than the cost of a movie theater ticket), attending a game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is very much accessible.  But say you’re interested in getting even more value at the ballpark.  The RoughRiders offer affordable ticket plans that include all-you-can-eat food and drink, and even packages that include alcohol.  These value-based ticket plans make attending games in Frisco possible without denting your bank account.

#7 – The other guys aren’t too shabby either

Tomorrow’s stars play today in the Texas League and 2014 is no exception. The RoughRiders will welcome a host of talent from around the circuit to Dr Pepper Ballpark this season, many of whom are ranked on the MLB.com Top 100 Prospects list. The Tulsa Drillers figure to field a strong pitching rotation bolstered by top 50 prospects Jon Gray (#14) and Eddie Butler (#41). Both pitchers bring high-octane velocity to the Drillers’ staff and can touch the upper 90s on the radar gun. Catcher Austin Hedges (#24) of the San Antonio Missions is rated as the second-highest prospect at his position by MLB.com. His strong arm and good footwork behind the plate will give would-be base stealers second thoughts. Kyle Zimmer (#25), the number five overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, is expected to start the season with the Northwest Arkansas. The Royals promoted Zimmer to Double-A late last season where he held a 1.93 ERA through four starts with the Naturals. Position players to watch for elsewhere in the Texas League include speedy leadoff hitter Delino DeShields (#66) of the Corpus Christi Hooks, Jorge Bonifacio (#91) of the Naturals and gifted batter Stephen Piscotty (#98) of the Springfield Cardinals. Every mentioned player has big league potential.

#6 – You won’t be the only one cheering

The vocal and expressive fan will find a home at Dr Pepper Ballpark. For nine consecutive seasons, the RoughRiders have led all 30 Double-A teams in total and average attendance. More than half-a-million fans routinely fill Dr Pepper Ballpark every season and the team averages better than 7,000 fans per game.  Not only is that the best in Double-A, but it’s also higher than 17 Triple-A teams! On 21 occasions in 2013, the ’Riders drew crowds of more than 10,000. Frisco’s fan base is second to none and players say the crowds enhance the in-game environment more than anywhere else in the Texas League. Bring a sign, be loud and shout until your voice goes out. You won’t be cheering alone.

#5 – More than just peanuts and Cracker Jack

RoughRiders cuisine far outstrips traditional ballpark fare. Sure, fans can still fill up to the gills on foot-long hot dogs and brats from Smokie’s Sausage Shack, but Dr Pepper Ballpark serves something for any palate. The new Beer & Barbeque stand will cook in-house, smoked Texas barbeque favorites while Lone Star Pizza offers a wide range of personal style pies. Deep-fried Oreos grace the à la carte lineup for the first time this season, and for those in search of a healthy option, Greek yogurt is also available. Of course, many Frisco fan favorites will be back on the menu as well, from fresh-spun cotton candy and funnel cakes to snow cones and freshly squeezed lemonade. Of course, few things taste better on a hot Texas night than a cold serving of Dippin’ Dots. It’s never summer without great food, great drinks and RoughRiders baseball.

Luke Jackson figures to lead a very talented starting rotation this season.

Luke Jackson figures to lead a very talented starting rotation this season.

#4 – An arsenal of arms

For the best pitching this side of Yu Darvish and Arlington, Dr Pepper Ballpark is the place to be. The RoughRiders will rely on their mound men to bolster the franchise’s quest for an eighth playoff berth. Right-hander Luke Jackson is expected to lead the group in 2014. The fireballer started the previous season with Advanced-A Myrtle Beach and made his RoughRiders’ debut on August 4, 2013. He didn’t miss a beat in Double-A and finished the season with 134 combined strikeouts at both Myrtle Beach and Frisco and held the eighth-lowest ERA among all full season minor league pitchers (2.04). Those numbers were a big reason why the Rangers named Jackson the club’s 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Alex Claudio figures to take the reins from Jackson and the starters as a key piece in the RoughRiders’ bullpen in 2014. The deceptive Claudio fools batters with his changeup and was named the Rangers’ Minor League Reliever of the Year last season. Another burgeoning prospect, Alex Gonzalez, hopes to excite the Frisco faithful this year. Don’t call him Alex, though. Gonzalez prefers the nickname “Chi Chi,” given by a family member. Baseball America rates the 2013 first round draft pick as the number six prospect in the Rangers’ organization. Fans on the wild side will anticipate the return of eight-year veteran Kevin Pucetas as he unleashes his newly developed knuckleball pitch on the diamond this season. Other highly-ranked pitchers that are expected to see time in Frisco this season include Alec Asher, Nick Martinez and Jerad Eickhoff.

#3 – Rougned Odor

Top prospect Rougned Odor is expected to begin the season at second base in Frisco.

Top prospect Rougned Odor is expected to begin the season at second base in Frisco.

Because the makeup of minor league teams are up to the discretion of the parent club, you never know who will be on the Opening Day roster until very late in spring training.  That is typically the case with the RoughRiders, but one player who looks very likely to be with the team on April 3 is second baseman Rougned Odor.  The Venezuelan with the memorable name is the Rangers’ top-ranked prospect according to Baseball America and he showed why during a 30-game stint with Frisco at the end of the 2013 season.  Odor was promoted to Double-A in early August and hit .306/.354/.530 with six home runs, eight doubles, two triples and 19 RBI.  And he did all of that as just a 19-year-old, the youngest player in Double-A.  (Projecting those numbers out over a 140-game season, he would have hit 28 homers with 37 doubles, nine triples and 89 RBI.) Now 20, Odor spent the first half of spring training in big league camp and hopes to use that experience to further propel his ascension to the major leagues.  For the time being, however, the spunky infielder with the big bat is expected to ply his trade at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

#2 – Family-friendly entertainment

The RoughRiders are well-known for making trips to Dr Pepper Ballpark about more than just the game on the field.  The atmosphere on game nights is a blast, even for folks who aren’t big baseball fans.  The RoughRiders employ a full-time entertainment director whose sole job is to make sure that families have fun when visiting the ballpark.  From spectacular fireworks shows following every Friday night home game to a collection of more than 180 hilarious on-field skits and promotions that rotate throughout the season, there is something fun for everyone who comes to a game.  Dr Pepper Ballpark even features a pool in right field and two playgrounds (including one specifically designed for two-to-five-year-olds).  And for a lot of fans, their favorite RoughRiders aren’t ones you might see in Arlington someday – they are Deuce and Daisy, the team’s loveable mascots.

#1 – The home of future Rangers

With Odor and a tremendous pitching staff leading the way, there should be another impressive assortment of talent on display at Dr Pepper Ballpark this season.  This has been the norm in each of the RoughRiders’ first 11 seasons in Frisco, and with the Rangers’ relentless pursuit of building a winning organization from top-to-bottom, don’t look for that trend to change anytime soon.  Since 2003, 107 former RoughRiders have reached the major leagues, almost one-third of all Frisco players.  In 2013, ten former ’Riders made the big leagues, including Nick Tepesch, Beltre, Garcia and McGuiness.  One look at the Rangers’ 40-man roster shows that half of its members played in Frisco.  Elvis Andrus, Harrison, Alexi Ogando, Holland, Leonys Martin, Profar, Neftali Feliz, Mitch Moreland, Tanner Scheppers and Martin Perez are just a few of the Texas stalwarts who once wore a RoughRiders uniform.  Outside of the Rangers organization, All-Stars such as Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Adrian Gonzalez and C.J. Wilson all spent time in Frisco as well.

***

With the RoughRiders, fans get winning baseball, exciting prospects, delicious food, affordable family fun and the future of the Texas Rangers on display.  It all shows that the Frisco RoughRiders continue to be a sure thing for families and sports fans across the Metroplex.

First impressions: New RoughRiders manager Jason Wood

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Jason Wood played for parts of five seasons in the big leagues, including 2006-08 with the Florida Marlins.

When I was out in Surprise this week I had the opportunity to interview the new manager of the Frisco RoughRiders, Jason Wood.  Jason replaces four-year skipper Steve Buechele, who takes the reins for the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock this season.  Like Buechele, Wood is a California native and previously managed in High-A before coming to Frisco.  He led the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to the playoffs in three straight seasons and figures to take over a talented roster in 2014.  When I talked to him on Tuesday in Arizona, the minor leaguers were in the midst of playing intersquad games with mixed rosters.  We talked about the plan for spring training and his excitement for getting to Frisco.

If you’d like to listen to the interview, simply click here.

Alex Vispoli: You guys just finished up an intersquad game.  I bet it’s nice to just start playing real, or almost real, baseball here.

Jason Wood: It is, it absolutely is.  It seems like these young guys have been out here for about two weeks now.  To see some live pitching, to see some game action is something they’ve been chomping at the bit to do for the last two weeks.  The last couple of days have been good.  From what I’ve seen a lot of our hitters are starting to get on the fastball a little bit more and do some good things.  And pitchers are making some good pitches when they need to.  But all in all, it’s just nice to see everybody get in some game situations and we’re ready to get after it [when minor league games begin] on Thursday.

AV: And knock off a little bit of rust too.  I’m sure that’s part of this process, getting back into game mode and seeing live pitches, seeing breaking balls and getting the timing down.

Ryan Strausborger is one of the players who has impressed Jason Wood out in Surprise.

Ryan Strausborger is one of the players who has impressed Jason Wood out in Surprise.

JW: Yeah, that’s what it is.  You come out here and get you into spring training for the first couple weeks you’re just getting your hands working a little bit.  Working in the cage, as far as hitters go and seeing some soft toss and seeing some pretty easy BP.  But in game situations you start to amp it up a bit, get the blood flowing and guys are seeing some velocity.  All in all, from what I’ve seen on the field, the timing has been pretty good.  I’ve seen some guys that have been in Frisco in the past; Strausborger has been hitting the ball pretty hard.  Jared Hoying has taken off where he left off in a sense, he’s hitting the ball hard.  All in all, I think these guys have been putting in their work, the hard time and seeing them face some live pitching, they’re ready to go.

AV: What will be the next couple of phases these guys go through – the hitters and the pitchers – as you start getting into playing other organizations before breaking camp?

JW: Well, we’ll start to slow it down a little bit as far as our workload goes.  We’ll come out, and our position players will run through a short team fundamental in the morning and then we’ll go into batting practice and then basically get ready for the game.  The pitchers will still get on their scheduled routine as far as throwing every five days and relievers will probably throw every other day.  Basically, we’ll just start to tone it down and get into game situations, game scenarios.

AV: The players are pretty mixed up at this point.  Guys who were in A-ball last year are playing with guys who were in Triple-A last year.  Are you looking forward to getting your own group of guys at some point here in camp, the guys that you’ll be bringing to Frisco?

JW: I do, I really do.  Last year I was managing in Myrtle Beach and I was pretty fortunate to have my entire squad during the entire spring training, so that made it nice.  It doesn’t look like it’s going to be like that this year with me managing the Triple-A team here in spring training.  But hopefully with about a week to go in spring training we’ll have most of the group and we’ll get together as a unit and start to put in our defensive plays and get things going.  I don’t see that right away but everybody’s getting their reps, everybody’s getting their swings and we’ll just see how this club turns out.

AV: Finally, since you were officially named manager of the RoughRiders, what have folks told you about what to expect when you come to Frisco and what are you looking forward to when you’re managing in the Texas League?

JW: First and foremost, I hear the fan base is outstanding and that will be a pleasure to deal with.  The ballpark is second to none and the league itself is a pretty competitive league.  I’m just excited to get ready for some Double-A baseball and be a part of that RoughRider organization and put some good talent on the field.  I think that’s something that the Rangers do a very good job of.  With each of our affiliates, we put talent out there.  Our main focus is development but at the day’s end we want to win and we want to grind our wins, be a competitive team at the end and be a playoff contender.

AV: We’re just a few weeks away from opening day.  We’re looking forward to seeing you and the rest of the guys back in the Metroplex.  Thanks  for the time.

JW: All right Alex.  I appreciate it and thanks for having me.

Thanks for reading.

- Alex

‘Riders on the Record: Final Words

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

An extra long edition this week with a double-dose of the skipper and a season finale chat with Jeff Andrews is here! It’s been a pleasure posting these each week. Thank you for your support of the Insider Blog and ‘Riders on the Record this season. We hope you enjoyed getting to hear from everyone this season. Highlights for the final edition include Phil Klein on his position on a football field, Nick Tepesch on being named the Rangers’ fifth starter and Randy Henry on how he can improve upon his stellar season.

Happy Monday and enjoy!

Sunday, August 25, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


After a tumultuous weekend in which the bullpen has been severely taxed, the manager Steve Buechele assesses the state of the ‘pen and who could have been on the mound among the position players. He discusses why Luke Jackson was removed in the midst of a no-hitter and explains the quick success of Nick Martinez in Double-A. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, August 26, 2013 – Catcher Zach Zaneksi


The RoughRiders catcher Zach Zaneski comes on to talk about his offseason plans and the end of the RoughRiders season. With Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez in town, Zach tells us what kind of wisdom the future Hall-of-Famer has shared with the ‘Riders backstops. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 – RHP Phil Klein


For the first time in his pro career, Phil Klein was the starting pitcher. He talks about keeping his routine consistent and how excited he was to get the nod. In preparation for our fantasy football post on the RoughRiders Insider Blog, I also asked Klein where he would play on a football team. (w/ Nathan)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 – 1B/C Brett Nicholas


Brett Nicholas put together a career year in 2013. He was named to the Texas League Post-season All-Star Team and a member of the Arizona Fall League the previous day, and he talks about the significance of both in the larger picture of his career. Hovering around a .300 batting average, Brett weighs in on the importance of that number to him as well. (w/ Nathan)

Thursday, August 29, 2013 – 3B Ryan Rua


Fresh off his walk-off grand slam, Ryan Rua reflects on the best moments of his career. He looks back at his breakout season and assess the progress that he has made this year as well as his adjustment to Double-A pitching. (w/ Nathan)

Friday, August 30, 2013 – Rangers Rehabber Nick Tepesch


Rangers rehabber Nick Tepesch talks about his first ever rehab. He shares his story from Spring Training that ended in the nod as the Rangers #5 starter and the development of his slider that has helped him make the leap. He also explains how quick teams and players are to adjust at the big league level. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, August 31, 2013 – RHP Randy Henry


RoughRiders reliever Randy Henry is putting the finishing touches on a spectacular season in his year at Double-A. Battling an elbow injury, Henry was one of the more dominant pitchers in the Texas League this season. He evaluates his year and pinpoints places for future improvement. (w/ Alex)

Sunday, September 1, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


For the final time, the ‘Riders skipper joins our own Alex Vispoli on the pregame show to discuss the end of the season. He gives his take on the significance of a .500 record and shares his plans for the offseason. (w/ Alex)

Monday, September 2, 2013 – Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews


On the final day of the season, Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews sits down to assess his pitching staff at season’s end. He talks about the development of Luke Jackson and Nick Martinez, including the significance of his Jackson’s unconventional mechanics and Martinez’s baseball smarts. A big league coach in 2008 with the Pirates, he explains the value of coaching in the majors and what he learned in his season in Pittsburgh.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: sky piece – baseball cap

(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)

‘Riders on the Record: Dunk City baseball and September call-ups

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

The second-to-last ‘Riders on the Record features Richard Bleier on the rise of his alma mater to “Dunk City,” the inaugural turn for Rougned Odor on the Record (via translator Arlett Mavare) and the always enlightening Jason Cole on the newest ‘Riders hurlers. Want to find out if Rougned Odor voted for himself in Moniker Madness? Be sure to listen in to Alex’s chat with him from Thursday.

It’s been a pleasure reliving these conversations with the players, coaches and special guests this season. We will put off next week’s Record until Monday and include the final eight days of interviews for the season. Thanks for continuing to tune in.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, August 18, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Steve Buechele weighs in on the the previous night’s antics when Odor knocked a walk off single for the second straight night. He gives his take on late-game enthusiasm and how close the ‘Riders came to blows with the Drillers Saturday night. He tries to explain the late fielding blunders for the club and what he expects of Neil Ramirez, who would make his final appearance for the club that night.  (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 – LHP Richard Bleier


Relief pitcher Richard Bleier joined the RoughRiders after a rocky start to his season in Triple-A. He talks about dealing with the adversity and disappointment of demotion back to Double-A and how he has rebounded to have a strong year out of the ‘Riders bullpen. He recalls the decision to shave his beard in the middle of the season and remembers his time at Florida Gulf Coast. (w/ Alex)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 – Hitting Coach Jason Hart


Hitting coach Jason Hart joins the pregame show and talks about the newest RoughRiders like Ryan Rua and Kalian Sams as well as how he tries to improve as a hitting coach. Getting close to the end of the season, he explains how he keeps the hitters motivated and focused through the end of the season. (w/ Alex)

Thursday, August 22, 2013 – 2B Rougned Odor


Translated by Arlett Mavare, Rougned Odor explains to Alex about his adjustment to the Texas League and what it was like to have back-to-back nights in which he collects a walk off hit. He talks about the importance of staying with his double play partner Luis Sardinas and the stock he places in the Moniker Madness competition put on by Minor League baseball to crown the best name in the sport. (w/ Alex)

Friday, August 23, 2013 – Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus


Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus sits down before the ‘Riders’ last game in San Antonio to discuss the trio of new ‘Riders pitchers: Luke Jackson, Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Martinez. He breaks down the play of Luis Sardinas and speculates on potential September call-ups to the Rangers. (w/ Alex)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: baseballese – the overall language of baseball, comprising official terminology, slang, and jargon. 

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders on the Record: getting knighted and swinging at a tire

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

A jam-packed home stand had lots of new faces looming in the tunnels and on the field at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Tony Fernandez was here as the active hitting coach for Jason Hart, Rangers Field Coordinator Jayce Tingler was in town for a bit, as was the Outfield Instructor Joe Mikulik and Infield Instructor Casey Candaele. Newcomers Nick Martinez, Jerad Eickhoff, Ryan Rua and Kalian Sams all made their Dr Pepper Ballpark debuts, and the ‘Riders were joined by Rangers rehabber Lance Berkman.   Highlights this week include the knighthood of Sir Kalian Sams, Lance Berkman talking about the development of his left-handed swing and the insights of Tony Fernandez.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, August 11, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


The skipper sits down with Alex as he does on Sunday to discuss the past week. Steve Buechele explains why he was ejected in the ballgame the previous night and the goes over the frustrating one-run losses of the previous week. He talks about what it is like for a manager after being ejected. As a former big league third baseman, he also explains how difficult a transition that Ryan Rua is making mid-season to go from second base to third. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 – OF Kalian Sams


Kalian Sams began the season in the San Diego Padres system and faced the RoughRiders as a member of the San Antonio Missions. Now in the Texas system, he talks about getting acquainted with his new teammates and the hardest part of adjusting to a new clubhouse. A knight in his native Netherlands, he explains how he came to be knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands and what that process was like. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 – Rangers Rehabber Lance Berkman


Rangers rehabbing DH Lance Berkman talks about his decision not to retire and what he feels like he contribute to the major league team the rest of the day. He explains the value, in his opinion, of a rehab assignment and why he has been so successful in rehab assignment overs the years. He also talks about becoming a switch-hitter and how he learned. (w/ Nathan)

Thursday, August 15, 2013 – Special Assistant to the GM Tony Fernandez


Longtime major league shortstop Tony Fernandez joined the RoughRiders for the first few games of the home stand to serve as the acting Hitting Coach in place of vacationing Jason Hart. He talks about the process of serving as a temporary hitting coach and what it takes to ensure the growth of the hitters are not thrown off. He also talks about his work in the Rangers system and the key to success for the young middle infielders Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor. (w/ Nathan)

Friday, August 16, 2013 – C Brett Teschner


While not a highly touted prospect, undrafted catcher Brett Teschner has one of the more interesting stories among those who have donned the RoughRiders red this summer. In his short time in the Rangers system after a mid-season signing this year, Brett has been on every single Rangers US-based affiliate roster, completing the set of his here with the ‘Riders. He talks about the crazy travel. He explains what it is like for the undrafted professional after the MLB draft and if he ever considered calling it quits. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, August 17, 2013 – RHP Nick Martinez


One of the newest RoughRiders pitchers, Nick Martinez, joins us following his second Double-A start and home debut to discuss his early success with the ‘Riders. Primarily a second baseman in college, Nick talks about his transition to a full-time role on the mound, the development of his repertoire and the origin of his mechanics. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: curvist – a curveball pitcher

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders on the Record: The Franchise Hits Record and Modeling off Tim Lincecum

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

Lots of new faces, lots of new voices this week for ‘Riders on the Record. Wednesday through Saturday we heard from folks we have yet to hear from this season, including three players who joined the team this month. If you have seen Luke Jackson pitch, you might make the Tim Lincecum comparison in terms of his windup. Jackson addresses that notion; turns out its not a coincidence. Be sure to tune in to the always poignant G-Rod, who became the RoughRiders All-Time hits leader on Sunday before a promotion to Triple-A on Friday. Why is Ryan Rua hitting so many home runs this year? He tries to explain the uptick in long balls as well.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, August 4, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


The ‘Riders manager saw a bevy of changes to his roster of the week prior. Steve Buechele discusses the promotion of Carlos Pimentel to Triple-A, the addition of some highly-touted prospects from Myrtle Beach included Rougned Odor, Luis Sardinas and Luke Jackson, as well as the challenge of telling players that they have to go down a level. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 – UTIL Guilder Rodriguez


With a pair of hits on Sunday August 4, 2013, Guilder Rodriguez became the all-time franchise leader in hits, passing Renny Osuna who had 347 hits for the club. He discusses the significance of the record, especially in light of him passing a friend and a former teammate. He also shares his parting words with Hanser Alberto and Odubel Herrera when they were sent down to Myrtle Beach. (w/ Alex)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 – SP Jerad Eickhoff


Fresh off his Double-A debut, the big right-hander Jerad Eickhoff sat down with Alex Vispoli. Jerad had some family in town for the outing, he talks about how often his family gets to see him pitch. He talks about how he had honed his control and what he makes of Nick Tepesch comparisons. (w/ Alex)

Thursday, August 8, 2013 – SP Arlett Mavare


Arlett Mavare has not been a starting pitcher since his first year in professional ball. Sliding into the rotation of the ‘Riders this season, Arlett has really found a groove. He talks about his curious strikeout numbers, which he piles up despite the lack of an overpowering fastball. (w/ Alex)

Friday, August 9, 2013 – SP Luke Jackson


Rangers top-10 prospect Luke Jackson fired six shutout frames in his first Double-A start. With an unconventional delivery, Jackson is a very hard thrower. He talks about the tinkering of his mechanics as a professional and how he developed the motion in the first place. He also talks about the adjustment to Double-A and the new clubhouse which is now home to a bunch of his Myrtle Beach teammates. (w/ Alex)

Saturday, August 10, 2013 – 3B Ryan Rua


A “career year” only begins to describe the kind of season that Ryan Rua is putting together this year. At or near the top in the minors in home runs for most of the season, Ryan talks about how he has been able to unlock the power this season and about his journey from small Lake Erie College to Double-A pro ball. (w/ Alex)
– Nathan

Baseball term of the day: blinker – the back pocket lining of baseball pants

‘Riders on the Record: a World Series ring in a gun safe and staring down a knuckleball

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

The end of July saw a brutal offensive stretch for the ‘Riders but also produced some great audio for ‘Riders on the Record. Highlights include Joe Benson telling us what it is like to face a knuckleball, Kyle McClellan on the whereabouts of his World Series ring and Jon Edwards on his wild path from Cardinals outfielder to Rangers reliever.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, July 28, 2013 – ‘Riders Manager Steve Buechele


In the midst of the longest scoreless streak of the season, the ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele talks about what he can do to get his players out of the slump. He explains the balance of the positive and negative management style that he tries to strike. A former big leaguer, Buechele remembers how he got out of slumps in his career. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, July 29, 2013 – OF Joe Benson


Just off the disabled list, Joe talks about his return to the team from a groin injury. He gives his take on the team’s offensive woes. Facing a knuckleballer the previous day in Eddie Bonine, he gives us an idea of what it’s like to face the pitch. (w/ Alex)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 – RP Kyle McClellan

Part 1

Part 2

A World Series Champion with the Cardinals in 2010, Kyle McClellan has pitched for the ‘Riders, the Triple-A Express and the Texas Rangers this season. He talks about coming back from injury and the different pitching coaches in the Rangers organization that have helped him along this season. He looks back at his Series win and why he came to Texas in the offseason. He also shares his hiding place for his World Series Ring. (w/ Alex)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 – 1B Brett Nicholas


After a career night, Brett talks about his comfort level after the plate after his first mini slump of the season. He does his best to explain the offensive lull the ‘Riders experienced over the last week when the team was shutout for 38 consecutive innings. He talks about his adjustments at the plate and how he worked out of his funk. Brett also gives us a sense of what big league rehabbers mean to the clubhouse. (w/ Alex)

Thursday, August 1, 2013 – RP Jimmy Reyes


On the day the ‘Riders received five new players from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Jimmy explains what it’s like as a player to go through the transition of losing teammates and getting new ones. A good friend of Luke Jackson, one of the top pitching prospects in the Texas system, Jimmy tells us what we can expect from Luke. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Friday, August 2, 2013 – RP Jon Edwards


Jon Edwards has one of those fascinating baseball stories. A converted outfielder originally drafted by the Cardinals, Edwards is now a pitcher in the Texas system, and with Frisco, is pitching back home. The Keller native talks about his wild ride through baseball, which included stops in the North American League and the Pecos League in independent baseball before his arrival back in affiliated ball as a rediscovered pitcher. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, August 3, 2013 – Coach Corey Tucker


A member of the RoughRiders organization since the team’s inaugural season in 2003, Corey Tucker has seen the ballpark and town around it change over the years and watched a number of great ballplayers come through Frisco. He reminisces on the changes to the park and on some of the great players and coaches he has been around including Andre Ethier, Mike Napoli and Elvis Andrus. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day – getaway bag – first base

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders on the Record: Bubble gum and Manny

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

This week turned out to be an abnormally coach-happy version of ‘Riders on the Record. Some fascinating insights from a variety of people in different positions, it’s a bit hard to pinpoint the highlights this week. If you want to blow gigantic bubbles, be sure to listen to the one player interview of the week, when I spoke with Joe Van Meter. James Vilade shares his touching story of involvement with Diamond Dreams and don’t miss out on Jayce Tingler discussing Manny Ramirez.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, July 21, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Manager Steve Buechele sits down with Alex to catch up on the season after their hiatus the week prior. He explains why the game was postponed in Corpus Christi when it was not raining but the field had been soaked by a long day of precipitation. He talks about the silver lining of a series of rain outs. He also weighs in on the trade discussion around Neil Ramirez and how it affected his most recent start. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, July 22, 2013 – RHP Joe Van Meter


Joe Van Meter is the newest RoughRiders, just making his way up from Advanced-A Myrtle Beach. In his second stint with the RoughRiders he discusses settling into the clubhouse for the second time and breaks down his first two Double-A appearances of the season. A skilled bubble-blower, he shares the secret behind blowing unbelievably-sized bubbles. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 – Coach/Scout James Vilade


PART 1

PART 2

Rangers Scout and ‘Riders coach James Vilade is a member of the board of Diamond Dreams, an organization dedicated to the legacy of Mike Coolbaugh, who was killed coaching first base when he was struck by a line drive. Following an on-field presentation the previous day in Frisco, he talks about the lengths the organization has to promote safety in the game as well as what the loss of Mike means to him personally (w/ Nathan)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 – Hitting Coach Jason Hart


The RoughRiders hitting coach Jason Hart joins Nathan on the last day of the brief three-game home stand for the ‘Riders against the Midland RockHounds. He touches on the improved approach of Ryan Strausborger and Hanser Alberto at the plate and the consistency of offensive leader Brett Nicholas. He also remembers his time as a player in Frisco when he had the opportunity to compete in a Home Run Derby at Dr Pepper Ballpark with big leaguers Andre Ethier and Mike Napoli. (w/ Nathan)

Thursday, July 25, 2013 – Athletic Trainer Carlos Olivas


Following up last week’s conversation with the RoughRiders Strength and Conditioning Coach, Alex sat with Athletic Trainer Carlos Olivas to discuss his role with the team and his award he won last season for being the best in the Texas League. Carlos pulls back the curtain on the rehab process and explains the decision-making process to put a player on the disabled list. (w/ Alex)

Friday, July 26, 2013 – Rangers Field Coordinator Jayce Tingler


Rangers Field Coordinator was with the team during the trip to San Antonio. He explains the strange lack of promotions this season in the Rangers system and his take on the Rangers plans for Manny Ramirez, who is with the Triple-A Round Rock Express. He also weighs in on the scoreless streak, in which the ‘Riders have not scored in 35 consecutive innings. (w/ Alex)

Saturday, July 27, 2013 – Missions Hitting Coach Jacque Jones


Former big leaguer Jacque Jones is now the hitting coach with the San Antonio Missions. He talks about his transitioning to coaching quickly after the end of his playing days. He also discusses prospects on both teams, including the RoughRiders’ Joe Benson who he saw during his time in Minnesota. (w/ Alex)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: head of lettuce the event when a player breaks their bat after hitting the pitch, that results in the main portion of the bat (the barrel) to land within the infield.

‘Riders on the Record: Dangerous High Fives and Pumping Iron

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

Another week has passed, which means it’s time for another edition of ‘Riders on the Record, number 15 in fact. The ‘Riders were joined by MLB rehabbers Craig Gentry, Jeff Baker and Colby Lewis on the home stand and Richard Bleier and Eric McMahon made their first appearances. Highlights include McMahon’s discussion of supplements and taking care of the ‘Riders training regimen and Ryan Strausborger’s new-found hobby.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, July 14, 2013 – Richard Bleier


Richard Bleier has settled in nicely to reliever duties in the Frisco bullpen after initially arriving as an addition to the rotation. Coming off a series in Corpus Christi in which the team played three extra-innings games, Bleier discusses the state of the bullpen and gives his assessment of the relief work by Zach Zaneski, one of his catchers, who threw in the 16-inning marathon a few days prior. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 – Craig Gentry


Rangers rehabber Craig Gentry gave us some time to talk about his rehab from a left hand non-displaced fracture. He talks about how he feels, the importance of rehab at-bats over plays in the field and his take on the “Kitten Face” nickname. (w/ Nathan)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 – Jeff Baker


Back-to-back rehabber interviews brought Jeff Baker to the mic on Wednesday. The Rangers utility man was rehabbing from a sprained thumb suffered on an errant high-five by a unnamed teammate. He talks about another strange injury he saw as a player and voices his disappointment in being on the shelf.  (w/ Nathan)

Friday, July 18, 2013 – Strength and Conditioning Coach Eric McMahon


The RoughRiders Strength and Conditioning Coach Eric McMahon joined the pregame show for the first time this season. Honored as the best at his position in 2012 in the Texas League, McMahon explains how he goes about his business and the ins and outs of keeping the players healthy and getting them stronger. He talks about the research he has to do on the ever-changing world of supplements and gives his take on the purpose of weightlifting. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Saturday, July 20, 2013 – Ryan Strausborger


Coming off a big offensive game and his first start of the season at second base, Ryan Strausborger discusses his offensive adjustments as well as the challenge of playing in the infield after all those games in the outfield this year. He discusses his passion for baserunning as well as a new-found passion for the guitar. (w/ Alex)
– Nathan

Baseball term of the day: aspirin tablet – a fastball that is difficult to hit due to its velocity and/or movement

‘Riders on the Record: a catcher pitching and playing like a girl

071413 blog shot team riders on the record
‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

Without a doubt one of my favorite editions of ‘Riders on the Record this season. Steve Buechele gives some extremely high praise to Carlos Pimentel’s slide piece, Guilder Rodriguez gives his sage wisdom to the youngsters on the roster, catcher Zach Zaneski smiles over the microphone about pitching in a ballgame and Casey Candaele explains why he occasionally took batting practice naked in the big leagues. Radio gold this week.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, July 7, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Steve Buechele sits down in his weekly conversation to talk about the bounce back effort from Carlos Pimentel. Coming off his eight strikeout performance, he talks about the right-hander’s slider that has put him into the ‘Riders record books. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, July 8, 2013 – IF Guilder Rodriguez


Guilder Rodriguez joins us to talk about his first ever All-Star game experience, coming two weeks prior in Springdale, Arkansas. The 13-year veteran explains how special the honor is but is quick to divert the attention to the younger players who got the honor as well. Rodriguez sheds light on how he tries to help the younger players like Herrera, Alberto and Telis improve and carry themselves professionally. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 – IF Alex Buchholz


Alex Buchholz talks about his current hot streak, which was highlighted by a blast of a home run to finish the home stand. He talks about his mental and physical adjustments this season and the importance of staying healthy. He weighs in on the swing of Chih-Hsien Chiang and the fan environment in Frisco. (w/ Alex)

Thursday, July 11, 2013 – C/”RHP” Zach Zaneski


During the longest game in RoughRiders history, catcher Zach Zaneski made his professional appearance on the mound. Impressively, Zach tossed three scoreless innings with two strikeouts. He talks about his unforgettable experience and what he learned from former big leaguer Kyle McClellan in the bullpen to get ready for his outing. (w/ Alex)

Friday, July 12, 2013 – Rangers Infield Coordinator Casey Candaele


Casey Candaele is the Rangers infielder coordinator, and for the series in Corpus Christi served as the acting manager. He talks about the whirlwind of a first game played in the series that took 16 innings. He weighs in on what the young infielders Hanser Alberto and Odubel Herrera need to do to keep getting better and reminisces on his impressive, long, and occasionally amusing big league career. (w/ Alex)

Saturday, July 13, 2013 – IF Greg Miclat


One of the newer RoughRider Greg Miclat has played two positions in his first five professional seasons–shortstop and second base. In Corpus Christi, he twice played third base. He talks about the adjustment to that spot and the last time he has played there. Not known for his power, Greg tells us that he remembers each one of his home runs and he recalls his pro homer. (w/ Alex)

_______________________________________

We will post our “Home Sweet Home” preview of the whole home stand tomorrow, but the ‘Riders begin a four-game series today. Pitching matchup has RHP Nick McBride (1-5, 5.84) vs. RHP Keyvius Sampson (6-4, 2.90)

Sunday, July 14   |  6:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. San Antonio Missions (SDP)
TV:  KTXD    Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: pool table – a smooth infield

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