By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — One of the annual signs of the approaching summer is here.
The first batch of this year’s installment of the Everett AquaSox arrived in town Monday, and not only does it indicate summer is right around the corner, it also signals the imminent beginning of the 2013 Northwest League season.
The AquaSox are preparing to kick off their 19th year as the Seattle Mariners’ affiliate in the short-season single-A Northwest League. Last season the Sox finished 46-30 and won the West Division’s first-half title. Everett was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Vancouver in two straight games. Rob Mummau, who managed the Sox last season, is back for his second season at the helm.
The Sox will conduct their first workout this afternoon at Everett Memorial Stadium. They’ll get a chance to experience the stadium under the lights Wednesday when they take on the Everett Merchants of the Pacific International League in the 10th annual Everett Cup exhibition game. The 76-game season begins Friday at Spokane.
The players who arrived Monday consisted primarily of those who spent the past two months at the Mariners’ extended spring training in Peoria, Ariz. That included eight who spent time with the Sox last season. Infielder Jamodrick McGruder, who led the league in stolen bases last season with 30, is back for another stint with the team. Others on the initial roster who spent all of last season with Everett include outfielders Alfredo Morales and Michael Faulkner, and pitchers Steven Ewing and Mark Bordonaro.
The rest of the roster is expected to be filled by college players selected by the Mariners in last week’s amateur draft. The first of those joined the team Monday as pitcher Tyler Olson, a seventh-round pick out of Gonzaga University, arrived. First baseman Justin Seager, the younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager who was taken in the 12th round out as a junior out of UNC Charlotte, is expected to join the team later this week. Others will trickle in after signing with the Mariners.
Everett finds itself in a new division this season. With Yakima relocating to Hillsboro this year, the league has reconfigured into North and South Divisions. Everett is in the North Division with Spokane, Tri-City and Vancouver. The South Division contains Boise, Eugene, Hillsboro and Salem-Keizer.
Everett is also hosting the league’s all-star game on Aug. 6. This is just the second all-star game in league history, with the previous one taking place in Spokane in 2004 to commemorate the league’s 50th anniversary. The all-star game will be an annual event going forward.