If you’ve been to a Tacoma Rainiers game in the past 14 years, chances are good that either Brian Sweeney or Cesar Jimenez was in uniform that day.
The two pitchers have combined to appear in a Rainiers game in 13 different seasons.
Since 1999, only the 2001 and 2004 seasons did not see either Sweeney or Jimenez on the mound for Tacoma.
While both pitchers are currently in the Rainiers’ bullpen, their paths getting there have been different.
Sweeney, 37, came up through the Mariners’ organization and pitched for Tacoma in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003. He reached the majors and pitched for Seattle in 2003 before he was traded to the Padres.
Sweeney eventually pitched in Japan for three years before coming back to the Mariners (and the Rainiers in 2010).
This offseason, he signed a minor league free-agent contract with Seattle, marking his third stint with the organization.
“I never really wanted to leave,” Sweeney said. “The first time I was traded, the second time I was claimed off waivers. It’s kind of a home for me – I like the organization, and they’re giving me another shot.”
Jimenez, 28, has never left the organization that signed him when he was a 16-year-old in Venezuela. He reached Triple-A in 2005 and has spent seven seasons bouncing between Tacoma and Seattle.
The left-hander has established a Tacoma record of sorts: He is the only player in franchise history to play seven seasons with the club.
ON THE FARM
All of the attention at Double-A Jackson is on the starting pitchers – but the team has some interesting hitters, too.
Switch-hitting outfielder Denny Almonte has been a revelation. Pressed into starting duties after a rash of outfielder injuries within the organization, Almonte has responded with a burst of power.
He is batting .358 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 81 at-bats. Strikeouts have always been a problem for the 23-year-old, and he has 23 so far this season.
First baseman Rich Poythress has been making consistent contact at Jackson, batting .305 with more walks (12) than strikeouts (11). Poythress is repeating the Double-A level and could be in line for an in-season promotion to Tacoma.
At Low-A Clinton, outfielder Jabari Blash made headlines this week with back-to-back two-homer games on Thursday and Friday. Blash needed them – he’s hitting .184 with five homers.Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.