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Season of adjustments and success for Spokane Indians all-stars Blaine Crim and Kellen Strahm

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 16, 2019, 11:22 p.m.

Spokane Indians first baseman Blaine Crim earned Northwest League MVP honors in his first year in professional baseball. (James Snook / Courtesy)
Spokane Indians first baseman Blaine Crim earned Northwest League MVP honors in his first year in professional baseball. (James Snook / Courtesy)

The season didn’t end the way Spokane Indians all-stars Blaine Crim and Kellen Strahm would have hoped, with a loss in Game 3 of the Northwest League Division Series.

But the pair came a long way from where they started the season – Crim at Division II Mississippi College and Strahm at San Jose State.

Both players earned midseason all-star honors and represented the NWL against the Pioneer League in Boise, while Crim was named league MVP – leading the circuit in several categories, including batting average and RBIs.

“I think it was a good season,” Crim said. “I think we accomplished a lot.”

“Winning both halves and not winning the whole thing was kind of bittersweet,” Strahm said. “But it was a great summer and first year of pro ball.”

Crim hit .335 with eight homers, 15 doubles and 45 RBIs while Strahm finished at .278 with five homers, 24 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.

“Having some power numbers this year, incorporating hitting doubles and hitting home runs, I think those were some things that I improved on coming from college,” Strahm said.

“I wanted to hit above .300, or hit right at 300. I was in a little bit of a slump for a little bit though and I think that cost me that goal.”

“When it comes to tangible goals, I really didn’t know what to expect – so I didn’t have any,” Crim said. “So in that respect, it was definitely a good season and a surprising season when you look at the numbers.”

Both players knew pro ball would be different than college.

“It was definitely a season full of learning and adjustments,” Crim said. “I knew that was how it was going be, but I didn’t really know what adjustments I needed to make. So I had a really open mind when it comes to that.”

“You have to make adjustments fast and you have to adjust to how they pitch and all that kind of stuff,” Strahm said, noting that he wasn’t a fan of defensive shifting in the pros.

After a long college season, it was the first time the two players then continued into the summer without a break. On top of all the mental adjustments, they had to deal with fatigue as well.

“It was kind of hard playing a whole season,” Strahm said. “But you know, where I want to make it you have to play 162 games, so I can’t use that as an excuse.”

Both players got a lot out of playing for first-year manager Kenny Hook.

“Hook was able to teach me a lot about pro baseball etiquette, and how to go about it,” Crim said. “He let me know how pro baseball works. So I definitely did learn a lot and definitely still have a lot more to learn. But I definitely think it was a great first season when it comes to that.”

“Everyone loves Hook,” Strahm said. “He’s a player’s coach. You can go to him to talk to him about anything.

“I could sit in his office and talk to him about life, and that’s someone that you want to play for.”

“(Hook) was incredible,” Crim added. “He really has been around the game a long time, as a player and hitting coach. He was a blessing to have for a first season’s manager.”

Crim and Strahm said many lifetime bonds were forged over the summer in the Indians clubhouse.

“Me and Blaine became pretty good friends,” Strahm said. “We got drafted the same year, we are kind of similar. A lot of people mix me and Blaine up, saying we look like each other.

“It’s kind of tough being away (from each other). We’ve talked on the phone and texted back and forth a bunch, even when we’re not with each other.”

“Coming in here there are guys from all over the country, and then you have some from all over the world too, which is truly crazy,” Crim said. “But you know, the draft class this year is different, a little closer than everybody else.”

“It was definitely a team full of great relationships and friendships that will definitely last longer than just our baseball careers.”

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