Prognosis Positive After Timber Rattlers’ Coulter Is Hit By Pitch

by Kevin Kimmes

Coulter“Some guys have all the luck, some guys have all the pain…”

It’s almost as if Rod Stewart had a vision of Timber Rattlers’ catcher Clint Coulter when he sang those words. Coulter has definitely seen his share of luck (drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1st round of the 2012 draft) and pain (Clint leads the Midwest League in the dreaded hit-by-pitch category with 16). What happened on Sunday, however, was not your run of the mill plunking.

It hit him in the face.

It didn’t hit the helmet. It didn’t just buzz the tower. The ball hit him in the side of the face traveling around 90 miles per hour. Unfazed, Coulter headed to 1st base.

“He’s doing OK,” Rattlers’ manager Matt Erickson said in Monday’s post game press conference. “He passed all the concussion type initial tests yesterday in the ballgame, the reason he stayed in the game. We had instructions with him last night to communicate with us throughout the night to make sure there wasn’t any other side effects that came later, that was all positive.”

Sporting a shiner, Coulter was given the day off Monday allowing him to have 2 consecutive days to rest and recover (today is a travel day for the team). Regarding when he will return to the lineup, Erickson was optimistic.

“We’ll see where he’s at the first day in Lake County and if he’s ready to go, we’ll put him in the lineup, if he’s still a little sore or has some swelling then we’ll probably keep him out another day.”

 Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a former MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Matt Erickson Becomes The Winningest Skipper In Timber Rattlers’ History

20140501-222945.jpg

by Kevin Kimmes

Cream City Cables would like to send a heartfelt congratulations out to Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ manager Matt Erickson on the occasion of his 216th win as their skipper. The previous franchise wins mark by a manager (215) was held by former Rattlers’ skipper Gary Thurman who coached the Rattlers from 2000-2002.

Regarding the win, Erickson had this to say in his post-game interview:

“We have a young team and we talk about body language and trying to move onto the next pitch when negative things happen and trying to stay upbeat. I had to lose a lot of games to win 216, so we got a good chuckle out of that. I feel fortunate, obviously, to be in the situation that I’m in. To get to do this in my home town and for the Brewers, a team I grew up watching and got to play for. It’s a neat experience, humbling.”

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a former MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Straight Outta Compton: An Interview With Timber Rattlers’ Speedster Johnny Davis

20140501-131304.jpg

by Kevin Kimmes

If I told you there was a player on this year’s Timber Rattlers roster with only one year of baseball experience, could you pick him out? While you might think it would be easy to spot, inexperience showing at the plate or in the field, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Meet Johnny Davis.

The Compton, CA native, who’s walkup is the apropos “Straight Outta Compton” by rap legends N.W.A., is a speed demon on the base paths and a hitter’s nightmare in center field. Drawing comparisons to current Brewers’ center fielder Carlos Gomez or the fictional Willie Mays Hayes, Davis was the fastest player in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft according to Baseball America.

Cream City Cables: Prior to 2013 you had never played organized baseball. You played football, you ran track, so what made you decide that baseball was the path you wanted to take?

Johnny Davis: I always knew when I was a kid that I wanted to be a professional athlete and a scout saw me working out baseball with my little brother and told me I could get drafted. So, I thought, might as well do it, might as well get it done.

He told me he wanted to sign me right then and there but by me being in college he couldn’t, he had to wait until the draft. So I went to college, played baseball and got drafted.

CCC: Your speed in the outfield and on the base paths has drawn comparisons to players like Carlos Gomez and the fictional Willy Mays Hayes. As you continue to learn the game, what has been your biggest focus thus far?

JD: My biggest focus is trying to learn to get good jumps, trying not to get picked off by pitchers. Those things are tough, especially when they know I’m running. Sometimes a pitcher will pick at me more times than he’ll throw pitches, so it’s really tough getting a jump, it’s really tough stealing bases. It’s easy for someone who’s an average runner to steal bases, but someone who’s a plus runner it’s very hard to steal bases, very hard.

CCC: From a hitting perspective, early in the season you were trying to kill every ball you saw, but lately we’re seeing more slap hitting from you. What kind of adjustments have you had to make to bring your average up to .300?

JD: Just thinking about knowing my role and putting the ball in play. That’s what I need to do and that’s why I changed my approach and started putting the ball in play.

CCC: From a defensive perspective in the outfield we’ve watched you lay out for some balls that frankly looked like “Top 10 Plays”. What’s your mental approach to playing defense?

JD: Taking base hits from the opponent and helping my pitchers anyway I can. That’s my main focus when I’m on defense. I want the ball hit to be hit to me, I want it to be hit in the gap. I pride myself on my defense and I want to layout for balls and things like that.

CCC: Anything else we should know about Johnny Davis?

JD: Toughest competitor you’ll ever meet…EVER!

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a former MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Timber Rattlers 2014 Opening Day Pre-Game Notes

by Kevin Kimmes
20140403-180853.jpg

Tonight, the Timber Rattlers kick off the 2014 season at home against the Peoria Chiefs. Here’s what you need to know if you are heading out to the ballpark tonight (game time is set for 6:35 PM).

– Back for his 4th season as the skipper of the Timber Rattlers, Matt Erickson (204-209) is just 12 wins shy of passing Gary Thurman (215-198) for the most wins by a Wisconsin manager in franchise history.

– 6 former Rattlers have made the 2014 Opening Day roster. They are: pitchers Preston Gainey, Harvey Martin and Chris Razo; catchers Clint Coulter and Rafael Neda; and infielder Chris McFarland.

– The Brewers made 2 roster moves in order to reach tonight’s 25-player limit. Those moves find Rodolfo Fernandez (P) and Paul Eshleman (C) placed on the disabled list.

– If tonight’s matchup seems like ” It’s deja vu all over again”, that’s because it is. Tonight marks the 6th time these two teams have faced off to start a Midwest League season. Wisconsin holds a 3-2 advantage in the previous 5 matchups.

– The all time series between Wisconsin and Peoria (which dates back to 1995) finds the Rattlers in the drivers seat. The Rattlers are 148-142, with a 69-84 record here at Neuroscience Group Field.

– This year marks the Chiefs 2nd season as an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Chiefs had the Rattlers number in 2013 winning 11 of their 17 head to head contests.

Can’t make it out to the game tonight, you can still catch all the action on TWC Sports WI, 1280 WNAM, and on MiLB.TV.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a former MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

The Chase: What You Need to Know About The Timber Rattlers Run At The Post Season

T-Rats Logoby Kevin Kimmes

Optimism. That’s what Timber Rattlers’ coaches, players and fans are feeling right now. Optimism for a return to the postseason and another attempt at the Midwest League championship which they currently defend. If you had asked these same people about the Playoffs last week, you would have gotten a Jim Mora-esque reply. But, that was then, and this is a very bright now.

Streaking To The Finish Line

Since last Thursday, the Timber Rattlers are 5 for their last 6 games and still very much in the hunt for their second postseason bid in as many years. The streak, ironically enough began against their top rival for the 2nd half Wild Card, the Clinton LumberKings. Clinton, who is winless during this same period, has allowed the Rattlers to pull within a game of them in the standings with 6 games remaining. As if this didn’t make for a good enough storyline, let’s look at some other reasons to head on out to Fox Cities Stadium over the next 3 days.

The Dynamic Duo

Milwaukee has had some great duos on it’s rosters over the years including Molitor/Yount and Braun/Fielder. But, what if I told you that the duo of the future is playing right now in Appleton? Left fielder Victor Roache and his partner in crime, center fielder Tyrone Taylor, bring a youthful exuberance to the game that is frankly contagious. Making up the 3-4 punch in the Rattlers order, Roache (.249/.325/.443) and Taylor (.282/.346/.412) are showing experience beyond their years (21 and 19 respectively) while making the game fun to watch for young and old alike.

The Hunt For 23

Speaking of Victor Roache, did you know that Victor is just 2 homeruns away from breaking former Timber Rattler, and current Brewers left fielder, Khris Davis’ single season franchise homerun record? The power hitting Roache currently stands at 21 homeruns on the season and should either tie, or break, Davis’ single season record some time this week. It’s a good sign for a Brewers farm system which is often maligned by the national media for not having much to offer, while simultaneously giving fans the opportunity to see Timber Rattlers history remade.

On The Bobble

Thursday night is the final bobble head giveaway of the year. This time, the subject of the head knocker is none other than Milwaukee’s 2012 1st round draft pick Clint Coulter. Fans will want to head out to the ballpark early on Thursday as this giveaway is limited to just the first 1,000 fans through the gates.

So, while the 2013 Brewers campaign may have been less than what fans were hoping for, let the farmhands again come to the fans rescue by playing some inspired ball down the stretch and possibly making this another September to remember. See you at the ballpark!

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes and read about some his latest adventures in the pages of the September issues of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sportscard Monthly.

Fox Cities Stadium Renovations On Track For Opening Day

On Tuesday, Cream City Cables was invited to tour the newly renovated Fox Cities Stadium.

On Tuesday, Cream City Cables was invited to tour the newly renovated Fox Cities Stadium.

by Kevin Kimmes

With less than 4 weeks until their home opener on April 8th, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers invited the media out to Fox Cities Stadium on Tuesday to preview the parks newly renovated amenities. The 6.2 million dollar renovation began last fall following the teams last Midwest League Championship Series home-game and currently stands at about 95% complete, which according to Timber Rattlers President, Rob Zerjav, puts the progress ahead of schedule.

Zerjav stated Tuesday that the renovation will not be coming at the expense of the fans. The project was fully funded by the team, the facility’s owners (The Fox Cities Amateur Sports Authority) and a $400,000 grant from the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. That means that prices at both the ticket window and the concession stands will be in line with what fans paid last season.

So, what can fans expect when they head out to the ballpark this season?

A look at the inside of the expanded team store.

A look at the inside of the expanded team store.

1) An expanded team store: Twice the size of the old team store, the new store will be open during the day and will allow the team to have an expanded selection of merchandise on hand at all times.

2) Parking lot accessible restrooms: Piggybacking off of the existing concourse restrooms, the new restrooms will provide amenities for tailgaters prior to gates opening on game day.

3) 2nd Floor Banquet Facility/Club Level: One of the big focal points of the renovation was to turn the park into a year round venue which has been accomplished with the addition of an enclosed banquet facility on the parks new upper level. Already scheduled to host 12 weddings this year, the team is looking into how the space can be utilized for other non-baseball events potentially including concerts or festivals.

Tickets for the Club Level will be $15.00. This section of the facility will also be open for 2 hours after every home game giving fans who don’t want to go home yet a place to hang out.

The view from inside one of the six new luxury boxes.

The view from inside one of the six new luxury boxes.

4) Luxury boxes: Also located on the parks upper level, 6 luxury boxes have been added which replace the teams 3 suites which they previously had . Each box is designed to accommodate 14 fans with outside seating for 10 and an additional 4 seats located at a party bar inside the boxes themselves. Additional features of the boxes include closed circuit TV and waitstaff.  The boxes will be rented out on a 1/4, 1/2 and full season basis.

5) Increased stadium capacity: Stadium capacity has increased from 5,500 to 5,900 with the addition of the upper deck. While not a huge jump in capacity, the expanded facilities should make for an even better fan experience on game day.

The Timber Rattlers play their first home game of the 2013 season against the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Monday April 8th with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 pm.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.