The Spokane Indians can take away some positive nuggets from Opening Night, discounting the numbers on the scoreboard.
Of note, the weather cleared enough Friday to entice 6,511 fans to Avista Stadium – within about 300 of capacity – to witness a 6-1 loss to the Tri-City Dust Devils.
More important, the Indians can fervently hope that right-hander Parker Frazier’s first rehab assignment for the Dust Devils will soon lead to his promotion from the Northwest League.
Frazier, a sinkerball specialist, baffled Spokane for five innings in his return from Tommy John surgery. Frazier struck out six, walked none and allowed only Ryan Strausborger’s leadoff double in the first, a fly that left fielder Leonardo Reyes may have lost in the sun.
“It was just a ball he couldn’t get to,” Frazier shrugged.
The NWL is nothing new to Frazier, who led the league in innings pitched (87) in 2008, starting 15 games for the Dust Devils and winning a team-best five.
The success led him up the ladder to Asheville (N.C.) of the North Atlantic League last season. Frazier also led the Tourists in wins (10) and was cruising along until he hurt his elbow during a mid-August game.
The surgery occurred in September and sidelined the 6-foot-5, 175-pounder from game action until Friday. His pitch count was around 65 and he hit 64 after five innings.
“I made a rapid recovery and I’m just coming up on nine months,” Frazier said. “It’s good mentally to know I can go out and do that right now.”
Frazier comes from a pitching background. His father, George, pitched in the World Series for the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins and is now a TV commentator for the Colorado Rockies. Colorado is Tri-City’s major league parent club.
The Dust Devils have four pitchers on their roster doing rehab assignments. One, 25-year-old Casey Weathers, was drafted in the first round in 2007. Weathers pitched the eighth and dazzled the Indians with 95- to 97-mph fastballs, striking out four (Kevin Torres struck out but reached first base on a passed ball).
Indians starter Randol Rojas allowed seven hits and four earned runs in four innings. Dust Devils base-running blunders helped Rojas escape unscathed until the third, when Carlos Martinez hit a two-run homer to right – just his fifth homer in 899 professional at-bats.
Jurickson Profar, a 17-year-old shortstop, lined a double to right leading off the seventh and scored the Indians’ lone run on Jared Hoying’s one-out double.
The Texas Rangers, Spokane’s parent club, signed third baseman Mike Olt, their top collegiate pick from this month’s first-year draft, and assigned him to Spokane.
Olt, who set the career home-run record at the University of Connecticut, was selected in the supplemental first round and the 49th pick overall.
Texas also signed left-hander James Reyes, a seventh-round selection from Elon (N.C.) University.