Former Jackson pitcher Nick Kiel has been a Seattle Mariner fan since he was a child.
Now, Kiel could one day find himself playing for his favorite team.
Kiel, who most recently played at Bellevue College, was selected by his hometown Seattle Mariners in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball draft last weekend and signed with the team on Monday. He is eager to begin his professional career with the Mariners, which might see Kiel return to Everett Memorial Stadium as part of the Class A Everett AquaSox.
“I’ve been a Mariner fan since I was a little kid,” Kiel said. “Watching games and going to games in the Kingdome and Safeco forever. … I was speechless. Even getting drafted (is great) but to get drafted by my hometown team was just incredible.”
When he first heard the news — from a Mariners’ area scout — Kiel wasn’t completely sure what was going on.
Then it clicked, as he realized Seattle had drafted him.
“It was an honor and it was pretty awesome,” Kiel said. “I didn’t even know that I got picked until the area scout called me and said, ‘Congratulations.’ I didn’t put two and two together until he said, ‘You didn’t see it? We picked you.’”
Kiel went 7-4 with a 1.81 earned-run average for the Bulldogs last season, where he struck out a team-high 95 batters. He was a first-team All-Wesco selection his senior year at Jackson.
The left-handed pitcher said the Mariners had shown some interest in him in the past, even scouting a few of his games while he was at Jackson. Kiel had committed to Missouri next season, but signed a contract with Seattle on Monday. He is scheduled to head to the Mariners’ spring training complex in Peoria on June 20 after finishing classes at Bellevue College. Once there he will take a physical and await further instructions.
Kiel was told he may remain at the Mariners complex in Arizona, go to Rookie League Pulaski in Virginia or back to more familiar territory with the short-season Everett AquaSox.
“Everett would be awesome because I have so many friends and family out here that could watch me throw. That would be cool,” Kiel said. “I’m not sure. It just depends what player development says.”
To celebrate, Kiel is going to — where else? — Safeco Field today to watch the series finale between the Mariners and the New York Yankees. He’s excited to see Derek Jeter’s final game in Seattle while looking at a field that he hopes to play on someday.
“I’m excited,” Kiel said. “Getting ready to head out in the next week or so. I’m ready for it to start. Hopefully, good things will happen.”
All-Star coaches announced
NEW YORK —Ron Gardenhire will be in the dugout with the AL All-Stars at his home stadium.
The Minnesota manager was chosen along with Cleveland’s Terry Francona as coaches to join AL manager John Farrell of Boston in the July 15 All-Star game at Target Field.
For the NL, manager Mike Matheny of St. Louis chose Clint Hurdle of Pittsburgh and Fredi Gonzalez of Atlanta as his coaching staff.
Francona has managed the AL team before — in 2005 and 2008. Gardenhire, who has managed the Twins since 2002, has been an AL coach in 2003 and 2007.
Lirano to disabled list
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates placed left-handed starter Francisco Liriano on the disabled list because of a strained left oblique Wednesday, a day after he left a start in the fourth inning when he felt discomfort while throwing a pitch.
Liriano, who was the Pirates’ best starter last season and helped lead them to their first playoff berth in 21 years, is 1-6 with a 3.96 ERA in 14 starts this season.
He became MLB’s only two-time comeback player of the year honoree when he won the award in the NL last season.
Liriano bent over and held his back after throwing a pitch to the Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo during a loss Tuesday. Liriano, who led the Pirates with 16 wins in 26 starts last season, left the mound after a few warmup pitches.
He also left an April 26 start in St. Louis after two innings because of flu-like symptoms.
Liriano was replaced on the Pirates roster by right-handed reliever Stolmy Pimentel, who was recalled from his rehabilitation assignment and reinstated from the disabled list.