Rainiers Opening Day Recap
The Tacoma Rainiers opened 2010 with a loss, thanks in large part to Rockies prospect Jhoulys Chacin, who went 5 shutout innings, striking out 6, walking one, and allowing only a single to Tommy Everidge. He threw a sinking fastball at about 90/91 with great command, along with a change and a rare curve. Chacin was the minor league pitcher of the year in 2008, but struggled with his command in 2009 in AAA and in a brief call-up with the Rockies. Judging from tonight’s game, he’s put those issues behind him.
I’m hyping Chacin because the M’s prospects looked ugly tonight, and we need to put those struggles in context. Ezequiel Carrera hit the ball hard (and in the air, which were the only two air outs Chacin allowed), but ended the day 0-4. Greg Halman struck out in his first three AAA at-bats, but having someone who struggles with pitch recognition open the year against a pitcher with an exceptional change-up probably wasn’t ideal. He did manage a base on balls off a scuffling Juan Rincon. Mike Saunders earned the only free pass off of Chacin (though Chacin also K’d him) and also singled to left off a reliever. Mike Carp and Matt Mangini also started the year with 0-4 nights.
Defensively, the Rainiers trot out three OFs who’ve played CF in the past. I’d imagine all of them will rotate through the three OF positions, but for tonight, Saunders got the call for CF, with Carrera in LF and Halman in right. For the most part, they looked OK; Carrera struggled a bit to track some FBs, though strong winds certainly played a role. Halman seemed to take good routes in his few chances, and played a carom off the fence beautifully to keep Mike Paulk to a single.
It’s one game, and it’s one game against a really tough pitcher (reliever Edgmer Escalona‘s no slouch either). But if Milton Bradley’s going to play LF 5 days a week, the likelihood that the M’s will need to use one of their OF prospects (at least for a while) is pretty high. Saunders still has the inside track, both offensively and defensively, but it certainly would be nice if Carrera makes the decision a bit harder.
(Opening day photos here)