Friday, January 2, 2015

Seattle Mariners Caravan coming to Victoria!

GM Jim Swanson (centre) and  Assistant GM
Brad Norris-Jones (R) make the announcement
This afternoon the Victoria HarbourCats announced that representatives from the resurgent Seattle Mariners organization will be swinging by the Garden City on the evening of Wednesday January 21st during their annual Winter Caravan tour. The Caravan, which will also make stops in eight communities throughout Washington state, will feature a pair of current M’s players (James Paxton and Charlie Furbush), broadcaster Dave Sims, former Mariner Steve Sinclair and Mariner Moose on the Victoria stop.

This free event will be held at the Fairmont Empress Hotel (most likely in the Ivy Room) from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the 21st, and fans will have an opportunity to get autographs from the Mariners players, meet Dave Sims and check out the mascot antics of Mariner Moose and Harvey the HarbourCat. The HarbourCats are teaming with the Greater Victoria Baseball Association to present this portion of the Mariners Caravan and local baseball organizations will have information tables at the event.

James Paxton
From my perspective, Paxton is the primary draw of the Winter Caravan. The big lefty from Ladner, BC is part of the Big Three in Seattle’s starting rotation, along with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, and he’ll play a key role in the team’s 2015 playoff run. Paxton led the West Coast League in strikeouts (62) and innings pitched (70) in 2007 as a member of the Kelowna Falcons after completing his freshman year at the University of Kentucky. The former star pitcher for the North Delta Blue Jays of the BC Premier League had an incredible start to his Major League career, posting a 1.77 ERA in his first 12 starts. The only player to notch a better earned run average in his first dozen MLB starts (dating back to 1914) was Steve Rogers of the 1973 Montreal Expos, who recorded a 1.16 ERA over the same span at the beginning of his outstanding career.
Dave Sims

Furbush will continue to play an important role in the Seattle bullpen in 2015. The former Detroit Tiger has struck out at least 10 batters per nine innings in each of the last three seasons with the Mariners. The stylish Sims is the only broadcaster in baseball history to call two perfect games in the same season; he was behind the mic in 2012 when both Félix Hernández and Philip Humber turned the trick. Sinclair, a graduate of Oak Bay High School, pitched for both the Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays in the late 1990’s. He holds the single-season record for most saves by a left-handed reliever (15) in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Be sure to reserve the 21st of January on your calendar, because you won’t want to miss this event. Otherwise, you’ll regret it come next October when you’re watching Paxton and Furbush on TV pitching in the MLB playoffs. It should be a fun evening for local baseball fans of all ages.

  • The HarbourCats also announced today that Brad Norris-Jones has been promoted to Assistant GM. Norris-Jones has been the team’s key marketing executive since its inception.
  • The Winter Caravan will make stops in four other West Coast League cities: Wenatchee, Walla Walla, Yakima and Longview (Cowlitz Black Bears).
  • The 2015 West Coast League schedule is expected to be announced in the near future.

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