By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — While the Everett AquaSox began their 2014 season Friday night, they secured their future for two more years earlier in the day.
Everett renewed its affiliation with the Seattle Mariners on Friday, agreeing to a two-year extension through the 2016 season.
Everett has served as Seattle’s affiliate in the short-season single-A Northwest League since 1995. The renewal assures that relationship will continue beyond 20 years.
“It’s fantastic,” AquaSox executive vice president Tom Backemeyer said. “We’re obviously very appreciative of everything they do for us. They’ve sent us not only some great players but some competitive teams, and they’ve been very easy to work with on the administrative side. I couldn’t be happier, I’m glad it to done a few months before it expired, and we look forward to rolling it on for at least two more years and hopefully for many more after that.”
“It’s wonderful for the Seattle Mariners organization to have a Northwest affiliate so close to Seattle,” Mariners general manager Jack Zdiurencik said in a press release. “We have a great relationship with the Everett AquaSox ownership and everyone involved with the entire operation. It is great that the AquaSox and the Mariners can share such a strong fan base in the northwest. All of this makes for a great marriage and we look forward to working closely with the AquaSox franchise to develop Major League talent.”
The prior agreement between the Mariners and Sox didn’t expire until the Northwest League season ends in September. Backemeyer said there was never any doubt about whether the affiliation would be extended.
“I think they like working with us and we obviously like working with them,” Backemeyer said. “It’s a natural with the proximity to the big league club. It’s been a great relationship and we’re looking forward to continuing it.”
Everett’s starting rotation was in flux when the team went through its first practice Tuesday, but on Friday it was set.
The first three are all pitchers who saw time with Clinton of the mid single-A Midwest League earlier this season. Right-hander Rigoberto Garcia, the starter in Friday’s season opener, made one start for Clinton in early May. Left-hander Blake Holovach, tonight’s starter, made 14 relief appearances through the end of May. Right-hander Ramire Cleto, who will go Sunday afternoon, made six relief appearances in April. Holovach had the most success of the three, going 4-1 with a 4.32 ERA, walking 17 and striking out 29 in 33? innings.
Right-hander Noel De La Cruz, who started Wednesday’s Everett Cup exhibition game and tossed six scoreless innings. will start Monday in his first official outing of the year. Right-hander Dan Altavilla, selected in the fifth round of this year’s amateur draft, will start the series finale Tuesday. Altavilla, who made 12 starts at Mercyhurst College this spring, is the only member of the rotation without prior professional experience.
Opponent: Hillsboro Hops
When: 7:05 p.m.
Where: Everett Memorial Stadium
Radio: KRKO (1380 AM)
Probable starters: Everett left-hander Blake Holovach (no record) vs. Hillsboro right-hander Ryan Doran (no record)