Lake Elsinore pitching coach Brian Lawrence pitched six seasons in the major leagues and won 50 games - most of them for the San Diego Padres. In fact, he was the Padres’ opening-day starter in 2003-04.
While making his way to the majors, Lawrence was a standout starter in the California League, going 12-8 with Rancho Cucamonga in 1999.
But deep in Modesto lore, Lawrence’s biggest impact on the 1999 season came during a game he pitched at John Thurman Field.
The Modesto A’s were loaded that season under manager Bob Geren. They went 44-26 in both halves, and their 88-win total was eight higher than anyone else in the league. The A’s everyday lineup included Eric Byrnes, Jason Hart, Esteban German, Ryan Ludwick, Miguel Olivo and Oscar Salazar, and four pitchers off that team eventually toiled in the majors.
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But the heart and soul of that team might have been a guy who never reached the majors.
Jacques Landry was a 25-year-old third baseman who hit .311 with 27 homers and 11 RBI.
On Sept. 1, the final Wednesday of the regular season, just as the A’s were starting to gear-up for a playoff push, Anderson took a start for the Quakes in Modesto.
Geren had started giving players some rest, but Landry was in the lineup to face Lawrence, who in the first inning tried to jam Landry with a fastball at the hands.
“When it hits bone, sometime you can’t tell because it sounds like it might have hit the bat,” Lawrence said. “I thought maybe it got the knob. The umpire (Ryan Bleiberg) called it a foul ball, but there definitely was no question the next day that it had hit him.”
Landry went on to strike out in the at-bat, then left the game. X-rays showed a broken bone in his forearm, ending his season and taking the steam out of the A’s sails. They lost the North Division championship series 3-2 to Lenn Sakata’s San Jose Giants.
Lawrence is sharing the visiting coaches’ room this season with hitting coach David Newhan, who played for Modesto in 1996 and Visalia in 1997, and with manager Shawn Wooten, who played for Lake Elsinore in 1998.
It’s believed to be the only coaching staff in league history to be made up entirely of former California League players who went on to play in the majors.