Brian VanderBeek

April 13, 2014

Beek’s Blog: Chacin coming: Nuts open with a record at the gate

Jhoulys Chacin to pitch for Modesto on Tuesday; Four-game attendance total edges the 2007 opening weekend that featured a rehab start by Randy Johnson

Beek's Blog

Sports news scattered with occasional travel, music

Colorado Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, on the disabled list since the end of spring training with a shoulder strain, will make his first rehab start with the Modesto Nuts Tuesday night against Visalia, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post.

As a 20-year-old in Modesto in 2008, Chacin went 8-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 12 second-half starts, after going 10-1, 1.86 in Asheville, and was named minor league baseball's pitcher of the year.

GREAT START AT THE GATE - The best opening-weekend weather in many years helped the Modesto Nuts get off to a good start at the gate to the 2014, a start the franchise hopes will put them on their way to a season attendance record.

Thursday’s opening-night crowd of 4,164 was followed by Friday’s gathering of 4,389, giving the Nuts back-to-back sellout crowds to open the season for the first time in team history.

While Saturday’s crowd fell short of a sellout, Sunday afternoon’s crowd count of 2,504 boosted the four-day total to 14,654. That’s a franchise record for the opening weekend of a season, edging the 14,612 who entered the ballpark for the first four games of 2007.

And what made that 2007 start so special at the gate? For the Nuts, it was a special guest – a left-handed windfall.

That season started with the largest opening-night crowd (4,589) in team history, but neither of the next two games cracked the 3,000 barrier, and the front office was expecting a small crowd for the Sunday afternoon game, especially since it fell on Easter.

But the Visalia Oaks were in town, and the parent Arizona Diamondbacks needed a place for Randy Johnson to make a rehabilitation start. Word that The Big Unit would be pitching in Modesto began to spread on Friday night, and by the time the first pitch was thrown on Sunday, April 8, there were 4,192 fans in the ballpark.

Johnson was outdueled by Brandon Hynick that afternoon in a 3-2 Modesto victory, and Hynick would go on to post a 16-5 record and earn California League pitcher of the year honors.

And Johnson? The Livermore native, who is eligible next year for election into the Baseball Hall of Fame, was very gracious in Modesto that afternoon. He chatted with fans, signed autographs and helped the local economy by dropping several thousand dollars to have Outback Steakhouse cater the Oaks’ postgame meal.


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