Opponent: Tri-City Dust Devils
When: 7:05 p.m.
Where: Everett Memorial Stadium
Radio: KRKO (1380 AM)
Pitchers: Everett right-hander Natividad Dilone vs. Tri-City right-hander Josh Sullivan
Returning to Everett was a mixed blessing for Bryan Sabatella.
Sabatella, an outfielder/third baseman who played for the AquaSox last season, rejoined the Sox on Tuesday after spending the first two-plus months of the season with full-season Class A Wisconsin.
Demotion is never something a baseball player wants to experience. However, it also gives Sabatella the opportunity to get his game back on track.
“It’s a good place to be back, it could be worse,” a philosophical Sabatella said. “I’ve got to come here and do what I’ve got to do. They brought me here for a reason and I just have to produce. Hopefully I can get back out of here next year or later this year.”
Sabatella struggled with the bat at Wisconsin. In 52 games, playing primarily first base because of an injury to Wisconsin’s starting first baseman, he batted .199 with three home runs and 17 RBI.
“I got myself into a little slump early on and had to dig my way out of it,” Sabatella said. “At the end I started coming on, but it was too little too late. It was a good experience to get my feet wet up there.”
Sabatella showed some promise with the AquaSox last season. The 21-year-old native of Aqubogue, New York, was a ninth-round pick in the 2005 draft out of Quinnipiac University. With Everett he displayed a unique combination of size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and speed, batting .249 with four home runs, 24 RBI and seven stolen bases in 53 games.
Sabatella will be spending his time back in Everett trying to regain his hitting stroke.
“I know I’ve got to start producing, I know that’s what I’m here for,” Sabatella said. “With my size I’ve got to get the RBIs and extra-base hits. I just want to produce like I really should be, what I’m used to doing.”
Unusual circumstances: A quick perusal of the Tri-City roster yields one name that stands out: Aaron Rifkin.
Rifkin seems a tad seasoned for the Northwest League. The 26-year-old first baseman played for the Seattle Mariners’ Class AAA affiliate in Tacoma last season where he had a decent season for the Tigers, batting .258 with 14 homers and 54 RBI in 105 games. In the offseason he was taken by the Chicago Cubs in the minor-league portion of the Rule V Draft, then subsequently dealt to the Colorado Rockies for a player to be named later.
So is this a Crash Davis situation, a veteran brought in to serve as mentor for the younger players? No. Rifkin injured a bicep muscle while moving furniture during the offseason and is undergoing a 20-day rehabilitation stint with the Dust Devils.
Quick trip: AquaSox catcher Jair Fernandez returned to Everett on Tuesday after racking up some quick frequent flyer miles.
Fernandez was unavailable for Everett’s opener because he was temporarily called up to Class AAA Tacoma. Tacoma’s regular catcher Rob Johnson had a family emergency, so Fernandez was flown to Sacramento for Monday’s game.
Fernandez got the start and went 0-for-3 with a walk in the Rainiers’ 8-2 victory over the River Cats.
Nick Patterson, Herald Writer