Just like everywhere else, Pokemon Go has captivated Spokane Indians players and employees.
The augmented reality game is sweeping the nation with an estimated 15 million downloads— and counting. It’s the most-downloaded application on the Apple and Android stores since it was launched on July 6.
The Spokane Indians home ballpark is a supposedly a hot bed for the mobile game, with several PokeStops — places where players collect items — and a gym — where fellow players can battle each other — around the stadium.
And Spokane Indians players who play Pokemon Go have first-hand access to it all.
“There are like four PokeStops around the stadium,” starting pitcher Luke Lanphere said. “You just make a lap and you get free stuff.”
Lanphere, described as the biggest PokeManiac on the team, said fellow starting pitcher Sal Mendez and outfielder Josh Merrigan are the biggest proponents of the game on the roster.
For Lanphere, it’s not difficult to balance playing the game and minor league baseball. Since he is a starting pitcher and only pitches every five games, he takes advantage of his down time.
“When I’m not doing anything, I will literally just walk around and play the game because, one, it’s good for you and I’m trying to be better than everyone else at the game,” Lanphere said.
Lanphere said he loves the game, but hasn’t got a chance to battle at the gym right by the stadium. That’s because it’s been dominated by the grounds crew, who have all embraced the game with open arms.
“The grounds crew tries to take (the gym) over everyday,” Indians groundskeeper Jacob Fender said. “Every game time someone comes and takes it, but we always take it back over the next day.”
One of the biggest aspects of the game is catching different types of Pokemon, and one of the best places to do that is right here at Avista Stadium. Just beyond the bleachers in left field is the grounds crew shop area, one of the most active spots at the ballpark. The groundskeepers have what they refer to as “the Safari Zone” right next to where they work.
“Last week when Boise was in town, we had probably about half the team walking back here, because right here is the hotspot,” Fender said. “We have people trying to wander back here during games … it’s really cool that this is the place for the stadium where you can catch the most.”
In the game, you can find eggs which hatch Pokemon if players travel a certain distance with the game open. Fender and fellow groundskeeper Danny Ramirez said they will mow the infield and outfield with their phones in their pockets and the app open in order to hatch their eggs.
“That just shows how committed we are to the game,” Ramirez said.
Bruce, Stubblefield added to roster
Right-handed pitcher Steven Bruce and left-handed pitcher Tyler Stubblefield were added to the Spokane Indians roster on Thursday.
Stubblefield was signed by the Rangers as a free agent out of Emporia State this season and posted a 6.23 ERA in four appearances with the AZL Rangers. He made his Spokane debut on Thursday, and was shelled, giving up six hits and three earned runs in two innings.
He started his college career at Texas A&M before being dismissed for a violation of team rules.
Bruce experienced more success with the AZL Rangers with a 1.00 ERA in nine innings pitched. He also made his debut with the Indians, giving up two earned runs in two innings pitched.
The right-hander was signed out of Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The moves were expected after the Indians pitching staff was depleted with Kelvin Vasquez being promoted to high-A High Desert and Garrett Brummett being promoted to low-A Hickory. Carlos Garay, a catcher, drew the short straw and was sent out on the mound during the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s loss, in order to protect some over-used arms.
“We didn’t want to give up another guy when the game’s out of hand,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said of Garay, who gave up two runs in 1/3 inning Wednesday. “I told him he threw too hard. You want your guy coming off the bench to throw about 65, not 85.”
Spivey, Prescott bolster top of lineup
Seth Spivey and Blaine Prescott are two of the Indians most consistent hitters, as the league statistics show.
Spivey is third in the league in RBIs with 19. Everett’s Kyle Lewis and Kristian Brito are tied for the league lead with 21.
Prescott slipped from second to fourth in the league with 30 total hits after going 0 for 4 on Thursday. He is also third in the league with 49 total bases. His eight doubles are the most in the league and he leads the Indians with three home runs.
Last night: The Indians were roughed up by Salem-Keizer, with Bryan Reynolds leading the charge going 3 for 5 with three RBIs. Read about it here.
Standings: Spokane’s is last in the Northwest League North division with a 12-16 record, and is now 3 ½ games back of Tri-City for the first-half division title. The first-half season ends on July 26.
Tonight: Spokane takes on Salem-Keizer in game four of a five-game series. It’s Star Wars night, and the Indians will be wearing special edition jerseys. First pitch is pushed back to 7:15 p.m. and a laser light show on the infield will take place after the game. Follow @joshhorton22 for live updates.