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His friends and family members in Houston still talk about it and wonder whether it was the wisest of moves. So do several of his old college teammates. But Aja Barto, the Spokane Indians’ physically gifted right fielder, refuses to second-guess the decision he made three years ago to accept a scholarship from Tulane University in New Orleans and play baseball there rather than sign a major league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies right out of high school.
YAKIMA – The Spokane Indians scored five runs over the final two innings and rallied for a 7-4 victory to snap a six-game Northwest League baseball losing streak Wednesday night. Yakima scored three runs in the seventh to take a 4-2 lead before the Indians bounced back to tie the game with two outs in the top of the eighth.
The Spokane Indians have developed a perplexing habit of treating their fans to free baseball – but precious few victories. That was the way things played out again at Avista Stadium on Tuesday night as the Indians used a two-run homer by Miguel Alfonso to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, but dropped another extra-innings affair to Northwest League rival Tri-City 6-5.
The bats of the Spokane Indians once again remained silent far too long at Avista Stadium on Monday night. And the Indians paid for their early lack of pop at the plate with yet another Northwest League setback, this one an 11-6 loss to East Division-leading Tri-City.
The Spokane Indians returned to Avista Stadium on Sunday night, hoping to regain some early season momentum after dropping four of five games during last week’s disappointing Northwest League road trip to Everett. But the Tri-City Dust Devils nixed that idea by pushing across five runs in the top of the 10th inning to post a 12-7 win and saddle the Indians with their fifth straight loss.
Uncle Vin, not one second, a day or a game goes by without thinking of you. Grandma says I remind her the most of you. Although it makes her cry, it makes me proud. I wish that I grow up to be half the man you were. I miss you, and every baseball game I play, every kid I throw out, is dedicated to you … who else? Dad taught me to hit, but he told us both that we were morons for going behind the plate. Thank you for teaching me more things in life than anyone I know. I love you more than anything. God bless you. – Little Vinnie DiFazio, age 15, Hampton, N.J., 2002 Vinnie DiFazio hit his first professional home run the other night, wearing a Spokane Indians uniform, in a tidy little stadium in Everett.
EVERETT – The Everett AquaSox pitching staff needed just 24 hours to recover. Taylor Lewis, Brad Reid and Daniel Cooper combined on a seven-hitter Thursday night as Everett waltzed past the Spokane Indians 12-1 in Northwest League baseball play at Memorial Stadium.
EVERETT – The Spokane Indians took of advantage of blustery conditions, slugging four home runs and coming up two seven-run innings, as they clobbered the Everett AquaSox 18-9 Wednesday night in a Northwest League baseball game. Aja Barto, Vincent DiFazio, Denny Duron and Jared Prince all homered for the Indians.
EVERETT – In the top of the 10th inning, Everett AquaSox outfielder Wellington Dotel came within a whisker of an outstanding diving defensive play. It was a terrific effort, but a gamble that nearly allowed Spokane to score the go-ahead run. Instead the Indians were denied, and in the bottom of the 10th some similar aggressiveness by Dotel on the basepaths lifted the AquaSox to a 4-3 victory in the team’s home opener Tuesday.
It’s still early, and a lot of the first-year players in the short-season Class A Northwest League are still trying to groove their swings with those foreign objects – aka, wooden bats – they’re being ordered to take with them to the plate. That reality became apparent again Monday night at Avista Stadium as the Yakima Bears outlasted the Spokane Indians 5-3 in a 10-inning whiff-fest to salvage the finale of their season-opening three-game series against the defending NWL champions.
Tim Hulett is quick to admit he still doesn’t know a whole lot about most of the players on his roster. But the Spokane Indians’ third-year manager knew enough about second baseman Shon Landry, a former collegiate standout at McNeese State in Lake Charles, La., to give him the squeeze bunt signal with one out and the scored tied in the bottom of the 10th inning Sunday night.
Finding a decent investment in these troubling economic times can be difficult, if not impossible. But from all early indications, the Texas Rangers might have stumbled onto a real future money-maker in Robbie Ross, the left-handed pitcher they drafted out of high school last spring, later signed for just more than $1.5 million and recently assigned to the Spokane Indians.
Even as a 19-year-old pitching phenom fresh out of high school, Robbie Ross knew he never wanted to be THAT guy. So when the Texas Rangers dropped a little more than $1.5 million in his lap last August, he immediately sought assistance in handling both his money and his manners.
For the 34 big league hopefuls who took part in the Spokane Indians’ first practice at Avista Stadium on Wednesday night, the learning process has officially begun. In the next few days leading up to Saturday night’s 6:30 season and home opener against the Northwest League rival Yakima Bears, the young players on this year’s roster will be drilled extensively on the mechanics of team defense.
Former Washington State standout Jared Prince and two other players with ties to junior colleges in the state are among the players the Texas Rangers have assigned to the roster of the Spokane Indians to start the 2009 Northwest League baseball season. Prince, an outfielder from Poulsbo, Wash., batted .343 and drove in 38 runs as a senior at WSU this spring in helping the Cougars to a 32-25 overall record, a second-place finish in the Pacific-10 Conference and an at-large berth in the NCAA Division I Championship. He tied for the team lead with 21 extra-base hits that included seven home runs.
In the hierarchy of minor league baseball, nobody wants to move down. But that’s what happened to David Paisano, and that’s how he joined the roster of the Spokane Indians. He’s their hot-hitting center fielder. Heading into tonight’s home game, Paisano was second in the Northwest League in RBIs with 30. He had a .270 batting average and nearly hit for the cycle (he needed a triple) on July 22. So why, earlier this year, did the Texas Rangers send Paisano down from the Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings to the short-season single-A Indians?
The Spokane Indians held a youth baseball clinic before their home game July 16, 2008.
You'll never hear Tim Hulett say he's more focused on developing his players than on the Spokane Indians' win-loss record. The second-year Indians manager is in it to win. Don't get him wrong – he'll work all season to get his players ready for advancing. But he doesn't buy the idea that short-season Class A ball is simply about development.
A father-daughter organist team and a former Spokane County commissioner are the next to be honored on the Spokane Indians' Rim of Fame at Avista Stadium, the team announced Wednesday. Norm Thue started at the stadium when it opened in 1958, playing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and leading cheers like "charge!" When he left, his daughter Normalu Cooper took over and was the organist until 1992. Cooper will attend Tuesday's season-opening Indians game for the Rim of Honor ceremony.