Long before he infuriated/delighted millions of Americans, Rush Limbaugh worked for the Kansas City Royals’ marketing department.
The Royals fired Limbaugh after five years, but talk radio and television provided better avenues for the conservative torchbearer.
Kansas City, meanwhile, appears to still favor those who lean to the right.
When the Spokane Indians - the Royals’ Northwest League affiliate - open their season tonight at Yakima, leftists will be hard to spot.
The roster of 15 position players includes just one left-handed hitter - first baseman James Vida from Florida Southern College. Shortstop Emiliano Escandon of PomonaPitzer (Calif.) College is a switchhitter.
“You’d like to be able to mix it up in the lineup,” said Indians manager Al Pedrique. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be OK … you don’t see too many lefties (on the mound) in the league.”
The Indians are no exception. Spokane’s announced five-man rotation will include all righties except southpaw Hal Hodge of Jacksonville (Ala.) State University.
Hodge is expected to start Friday night at Yakima. Tonight’s starter should be Modesto Villarreal, a slim, 6-foot-4 Panamanian.
“Modesto has a pretty good fastball, good control and a tendency to pitch up (in the strike zone),” Pedrique said. “When he’s down, he’s good.”
Villarreal was 4-0 with a 1.95 earned run average last year with the Royals’ Gulf Coast Rookie League team at Fort Myers, Fla.
Daniel Soto, Justin Adam and Brian Winders complete the Indians’ scheduled rotation and will see their first starts in Spokane. Soto, from the Montreal Expos organization, already has experience at the short-season Class A level.
Lefty Jesus Liz and righty Brent Kaysner, a Bothell (Wash.) High School graduate, are early candidates for closer.
The Indians went through their four-day minicamp with just three guys who consider themselves outfielders: Tyrone Frazier, Scott Kortmeyer and Leon Wethersby.
Outfielders Tony Miranda, from College World Series champion Cal State Fullerton, and Adam Finnieston are expected to arrive before tonight’s opener.
Spokane is also thin at first base. Mark Quinn of Rice University, an 11th-round selection from this year’s amateur draft, was purported to be a first baseman. However, Quinn, expected to play designated hitter tonight and bat cleanup, claims to be a third baseman, so catcher Randy Paulin may back up Vida at first.
Juan Robles, one of nine Indians who played for Fort Myers last year, is likely to start behind the plate tonight. The rest of the starting infield should be second baseman Joel Nations of Seattle, shortstop Escandon and third baseman William Roland.
Tonight’s expected Yakima line up is center fielder Kevin Gibbs, second baseman Juan Sosa, right fielder Johnny Hilo, designated hitter Brian Harmon, catcher A.J. Walkanoff, first baseman Nate Rasmussen, third baseman Rafael Gross, left fielder Juan Hernaiz, shortstop Mike Carpentier and right-handed pitcher Ricky Stone.
Outfielder Judd Granzow, and infielders Trent Cuevas and Jonathan Tucker are supposed to join Yakima in time for Saturday’s game in Spokane. They are high school graduates drafted in the first eight rounds.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Taking the field Spokane’s projected lineup for tonight’s NWL opener at Yakima: LF Tyrone Frazier SS Emiliano Escandon 1B James Vida DH Mark Quinn 3B William Roland RF Scott Kortmeyer C Juan Robles CF Leon Wethersby 2B Joel Nations P Modesto Villarreal