Everett AquaSox manager Eric Farris is expecting his team to be back to something resembling it’s normal self this week.
The Sox returned from Canada following a six-game road series against the Vancouver Canadians, a series preceded by a flurry of roster moves. But Farris anticipates those changes being reset now that Everett is back across the border.
Last Tuesday, just prior to heading to Vancouver, British Columbia, the AquaSox had 14 transactions, with nine players heading to other Seattle Mariners affiliates while five players were brought in to fill out the roster. Among the players who were sent to other locations were starting center fielder Victor Labrada and starting rotation members Bryce Miller and Jimmy Joyce, who were assigned to the Modesto Nuts of the Single-A California League.
Everett had three imported pitchers — Jordan Jackson, Jimmy Kingsbury and Juan Mercedes — make starts during the series. Right fielder Alberto Rodriguez did the bulk of covering in center field, while Spencer Packard and call-up Colin Davis also saw time in center.
“We had guys who didn’t have their passports, guys who didn’t have work visas, guys who are applying for residence, and there may have been a player or two who are not vaccinated (against COVID) that couldn’t come across,” Farris said. “I’m pretty sure all the teams are dealing with that when they travel across the border. We were ahead of it, we got the guys we needed to fill in, and hopefully it’ll all be back to normal this week.”
The rejiggered roster managed to split the six-game series against the Canadians. Most notably, Everett’s bats showed some life, particularly in clutch situations. The Sox came into the series averaging 3.9 runs per game, but Everett scored 5.2 runs per contest against Vancouver.
“I think all year we’ve done a really good job of putting guys on base, drawing walks and getting good pitches to hit. This series we were able to capitalize on those baserunners,” said Farris, whose team is batting just .161 with runners in scoring position this season. “The first month of the season we struggled to bring runners in when they were in scoring position, or to have good at bats with runners on. This series we did a 100% better job. It was encouraging to see.”
After the series split, Everett is 10-16 and remains in last place in the six-team Northwest League. The Sox are now 5.5 games behind first-place Spokane.
Stars of the week
Hitter: Justin Lavey. This week was a toss-up between Lavey and Andy Thomas, whose stats were nearly identical, but Lavey gets the nod for doing it over the course of one more game. In his five contests the 24-year-old infielder batted .444 with five runs, three doubles, one home run and seven RBI, and he also walked five times and stole two bases without being caught. The strong week pulled his season batting average up to .265 and his OPS to .847.
Pitcher: Leon Hunter. The 25-year-old right-hander has been Everett’s best arm out of the bullpen so far this season, and the series against Vancouver was no exception as he made two appearances, allowing no runs and striking out seven over the course of 3.0 innings. He picked up his third win of the season with his two-inning, five-strikeout stint to close out last Tuesday’s 4-2 victory in 10 innings.
The week ahead
The Sox head to Pasco this week for a six-game road series against the Tri-City Dust Devils. Tri-City (11-13) is coming off an ugly series at Spokane in which almost every game was affected by weather conditions. Only four of the six games were completed and the Dust Devils lost all four, dropping Tri-City from first to fifth in the league standings. This is the second series between the Sox and Dust Devils this season, with Tri-City taking four of six when the teams met April 19-24 at Funko Field.
Tri-City, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angeles, sports the Angels’ No. 3 prospect as ranked by MLB.com in shortstop Kyren Paris, though Paris is batting just .171 with no homers in 21 games thus far. However, the Dust Devils have a trio of starting pitchers/piggybackers in left-hander Adam Seminaris (0.46 ERA, 26 strikeouts in 19.2 innings), right-hander Braden Olthoff (1.73 ERA, 30 strikeouts in 26.0 innings) and right-hander Robinson Pina (1.93 ERA, 26 strikeouts in 18.2 innings) who have been lights out.