EVERETT — Kody Kerski and the rest of the Everett AquaSox pitching staff is happy to have the crowd back.
Everett’s staff was back to full strength Monday following a weekend in which the whole team was severely short-handed, with the pitching staff being hit hard in particular.
Everett traveled to Vancouver for a three-game series with the Canadians over the weekend. However, issues at the Canada/U.S. border meant just 17 of the 26 players on Everett’s roster were able to take part in the series. That included just six of Everett’s 13 pitchers.
All of which made life lonely in the bullpen.
“It’s good to have everyone back,” said Kerski, one of the six pitchers who were able to make the trip. “It’ll give us a little bit of a break. I pitched twice in three days, so I think I’ll get two or three days off to recover a little bit now.”
When the team departed from Everett on Friday the Sox didn’t know they’d be so short-handed. Two players who didn’t have their passports remained behind, but the majority made the trip.
However, when the team bus reached the border, it was determined Everett’s Latin American players did not have sufficient paperwork completed on their visas to allow them to work in Canada. Therefore seven players — including six pitchers — and pitching coach Nasusel Cabrera were forced to turn back.
Fortunately, the Sox anticipated a potential problem and had a van following the bus to ferry the players back to Everett. However, that was little consolation for those who had to pick up the slack in their absence, as the pitchers were staring at the possibility of heavy workloads.
“They kind of told us they were flying in a few guys, so we weren’t really that worried,” said Kerski, whose two appearances in three days is a rarity at the short-season single-A level. “We were just worried about when we had to pitch.”
The Seattle Mariners, Everett’s parent team, helped alleviate the problem by flying five players — pitchers Jake Zokan, Andrew Kittredge, Nick Kiel and Logan Seifrit and utilityman Patrick Brady — to Vancouver from other minor-league affiliates to alleviate the pressure. The four new pitchers handled the pitching during the middle game of the series on Saturday, giving the staff a much-needed break. The Sox also received some volunteer help as position players Luke Guarnaccia and Jordan Cowan also made appearances on the mound.
The nine players who couldn’t play in Canada are now available again, and the five fill-in players have returned to their previous teams. Everett travels back to Vancouver on Aug. 13-15. One can only hope the paperwork issues are sorted out by then.