A couple months ago, pitcher Garrett Richards and outfielder Mike Trout harbored ambitions to make the opening day roster of the Salt Lake Bees’ big-league club – the Los Angeles Angels.
Instead, Richards and Trout opened the season at Triple-A, but the pair’s days in the Pacific Coast League might be numbered after leading the Bees to a 3-2 win over Tacoma in the season opener for both teams Thursday at Cheney Stadium.
Richards, who will contend for the fifth spot in the Angels’ rotation in mid-April, sparkled in his Triple-A debut, scattering two earned runs and four hits over seven innings, while striking out seven and walking none.
Richards (1-0) was nearly perfect until Tacoma’s Mike Wilson launched a solo home run off the right-hander in the fifth inning that cut Salt Lake’s lead to 2-1.
Tacoma (0-1) never led, but hung close to Salt Lake (1-0).
The Rainiers had a chance to overtake the Bees in the seventh inning. With his team trailing 3-1, Carlos Peguero led off the inning by drilling a Richards pitch for a stand-up triple off the center-field wall. Two batters later, Luis Jimenez’s ground ball to second base drove in Peguero, but the offense stalled after that.
The Rainiers mounted a rally in the eighth, too, putting runners at second and third with two out and third baseman Vinnie Catricala at the plate.
Catricala brought many of the 5,292 spectators in attendance to their feet when he smashed a deep fly to right field, but former Rainiers player Ryan Langerhans hauled it in at the warning track, ending the threat.
Peguero went 2-for-4 with a run and first baseman Johan Limonta went 2-for-3 at the plate.
Trout, 20, showed why he’s one of the top prospects in the minor leagues. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound leadoff hitter provided plenty of offense, going 3-for-5 and scoring three runs.
Because Trout is recovering from shoulder soreness and a bout with flu-like symptoms that caused him to lose almost 15 pounds during spring training – he’s gained back about five – he played designated hitter and did not take his usual outfield spot.
Rainiers starter Matt Fox (0-1) lasted three innings, totaling five hits, two runs – one was earned – a walk and four strikeouts.
Tacoma’s relievers fared much better. Cesar Jimenez, Josh Kinney and Sean Henn combined to give up one earned run, three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over six innings.
Tacoma catcher Adam Moore began a big-league rehab assignment Thursday, starting at catcher and hitting fifth. Moore showed no lingering effects from a broken wrist he suffered March 6, throwing out two baserunners. Moore, who went 0-for-3 at the plate and was replaced by Guillermo Quiroz in the eighth inning, is eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday.
The Rainiers honored late outfielder Greg Halman in a pregame ceremony and will wear patches bearing Halman’s No. 26 this season.
Halman was slain in November when his brother stabbed him to death in Halman’s home in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
PCL HALL OF FAME
The Pacific Coast League announced two new inductees into the PCL Hall of Fame on Thursday.
Right fielder and first baseman Mike Marshall, who played two seasons at Albuquerque and captured the PCL triple crown in 1981 when he batted .373 with 34 home runs and 137 RBI, and George “Duffy” Lewis, who played seven seasons in the PCL with Oakland (1908-09), Salt Lake City (1921-24) and Portland (1925), will be join the 93-member hall of fame.
Tacoma right-hander Jeff Marquez (0-0) is slated to start against Bees right-hander Matt Shoemaker when the teams meet at 7:05 p.m. today. The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.
Salt Lake City (Matt Shoemaker) at Tacoma (Jeff Marquez), 7:05 p.m., 850-AM