Welcome to October…the best time of the baseball calendar. Tonight the MLB postseason officially gets underway with the American League wild card game, and this year, like most years, the playoffs are loaded with former Sounds. Between the 10 clubs in the post-season and what their active roster looked like at the end of the regular season, over 20 former Sounds could be involved in the playoffs, and a few more who have local Nashville ties. Here’s a look at the teams and any former Sounds they will or may feature.
San Francisco Giants
How they made it: Won a Wild Card spot
Fun fact: This is the fourth time in seven years the Giants have made the playoffs. They’ve won the World Series the last three times they’ve made it.
The Giants have two former Sounds on Bruce Bochy’s field staff. One is their longtime pitching coach Dave Righetti (’95), who pitched for the Sounds near the end of his career when the Sounds were a Triple-A White Sox affiliate in the American Association. Righetti was the AL Rookie of the Year in ’81 and a two-time all-star. The other is assistant hitting coach Steve Decker (’98), who played in 18 games for the Sounds when he was in the Pirates organization. Decker has a long history as a player and coach with the Giants, and he managed in the PCL for two years in Fresno from 2010-11.
Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti (Photo courtesy of MLB.com).
Giants assistant hitting coach (Photo courtesy of MLB.com)
New York Mets
How they made it: Won a Wild Card spot
Fun fact: The Mets are in the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first time since 1999-00 when they lost to the Yankees in the 2000 “Subway Series.”
The Mets have two former Sounds on their roster. Former Sounds reliever Jim Henderson (’11-’12, ’14) went 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA in 44 games for the Mets this year. He missed some time on the DL with a biceps injury and had a couple of rehab stints ini the PCL with Las Vegas. Henderson has always been an easy guy to root for. He was 29 years old when the Brewers called him up from the Sounds in 2012 for his major league debut. He’d been a Triple-A all-star that year and, among the things I’ll always recall about Henderson, even won an extra-inning game for the Sounds as a hitter. He became the Brewers closer in 2013 and returned to the Sounds in ’14 on a rehab assignment. Here’s to hoping we see Henderson appear in a playoff game. The Mets’ bench coach under manager Terry Collins is former Sound Dickie Scott (’84), who’s in his first season in that role for New York after serving as their farm director the previous two years. Scott played for the Sounds on a Double-A Southern League Yankees-affiliated club that included Bob Tewksbury, Dan Pasqua and Jim DeShaies.
Mets reliever Jim Henderson (Photo courtesy Mike Strasinger / Nashville Sounds)
Mets bench coach Dick Scott (Photo courtesy MLB.com)
How they made it: Won the NL Central
Fun fact: The Cubs won 100+ games in a regular season for the first time since 1935. They lost to the Tigers in the World Series that year. They won 99 games in 1908. You may have heard that’s the last time they won the World Series.
The Cubs have two former Sounds on their roster. Pitching coach Chris Bosio (’09, ’11), in his fifth year with the Cubs, was the Sounds’ pitching coach in ’09 and then again in June ’11 through the end of that season. Bosio enjoyed an 11-year playing career, including a post-season appearance in ’95 with a Mariners team that defeated the Yankees in the ALDS in dramatic fashion. The other former Sound on the Cubs is Ben Zobrist (’15), the always-versatile star who appeared in three games for the Sounds last year on a rehab assignment with the A’s. Zobrist, an Illinois native, and his wife, Christian recording artist Julianna Zobrist, also have Nashville ties as they make their home in Franklin.
Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio (Photo courtesy Mike Strasinger / Nashville Sounds)
Cubs infielder Ben Zobrist (Photo courtesy of MLB.com)
How they made it: Won the NL East
Fun fact: This is the third time in five years the Nats have made the playoffs, and it’s been under three different managers (Davey Johnson in ’12, Matt Williams in ’14, and Dusty Baker in ’16).
It’s possible the Nationals will take on the Dodgers in the NLDS without a former Sound playing on their playoff roster. It depends on whether or not they include former Sound Sean Burnett (’04) in their bullpen. Burnett went 1-5 with a 5.36 ERA in 10 starts for the Sounds in ’04 when they were a Pirates affiliate. The 34-year-old has appeared in nearly 400 major league games over the years. He’s had quite the journey this season. He was released by the Nats in April and signed a week later by the Dodgers and sent to Oklahoma City where he faced the Sounds in a game on April 16. Then he was released by the Dodgers in early May and signed the next day by the Braves. The Braves let him go a couple weeks later and he signed with the Twins. By mid-August, he combined for a 2.28 ERA in 47 appearances with four Triple-A clubs. Then the Nationals acquired him from the Twins on August 19 and called him up in September. Other than that, it was a quiet 2016 for Burnett. The Nats list former Sound Randy Knorr (’00) as a senior baseball advisor as part of Dusty Baker’s staff after he’d spent the last four years as a bench coach for the Nats. The former catcher played in 253 games in the majors from ’91-’01, including with the Blue Jays’ championship teams in ’92 and ’93. He played in 13 games for the Sounds in 2000 (Triple-A Pacific Coast League, Pirates) in the twilight of his career.
Nationals reliever Sean Burnett (Photo courtesy of MLB.com).
Nationals senior baseball advisor Randy Knorr
Los Angeles Dodgers
How they made it: Won the NL West
Fun fact: The Dodgers are in the playoffs for a franchise-record fourth straight season. The last three years they’d played October baseball under former Sound and now Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
The Dodgers boast a few former Sounds, including Josh Reddick (’16), the only Sound from this season who will appear in the playoffs. Reddick spent a week with the Sounds in June on a rehab assignment for the A’s. He was coming back from a left thumb fracture and had 25 at-bats in six games for the Sounds, including a home run. The Dodgers acquired him in July with Rich Hill from the A’s for eventual Sound Jharel Cotton as well as Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas. The Dodgers have two former Sounds on manager Dave Roberts’ field staff. Their third base coach is Chris Woodward (’08), who played 12 years in the major leagues and hit .291 in 71 games for the Sounds in 2008. The Dodgers’ hitting coach is former Sound Turner Ward (’99), who also played 12 years in the major leagues. He hit .292 in 35 games for the Sounds in 1999.
Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward (Photo courtesy of MLB.com)
Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward (Photo courtesy of MLB.com)
Dodgers outfielder Josh Reddick (Photo courtesy of Mike Strasinger / Nashville Sounds)
How they made it: Won a Wild Card spot
Fun fact: Like the Nationals, the O’s are in the playoffs for the third time in five years. They last had that postseason frequency from 1969-74 when they made it five times in six years and won the ’70 World Series.
Of all the teams in the playoffs, the Orioles have the largest combination of former Sounds and Nashville ties. And it starts with manager Buck Showalter (’80-’83), one of the more notable former Nashville Sounds. The Yankees’ 5th-round pick in ’77, he spent all or parts of four seasons with the Sounds from 1980-83 (Double-A Southern League, Yankees). He led the Southern League in hits in ’80 with 178 and played for the Sounds alongside the likes of Don Mattingly, Willie McGee and Steve Balboni. Showalter ranks second in Sounds history in hits (493) and third in games played (453) and at-bats (1,671). He is in his 18th year as a major league manager and seventh with the O’s. Nashville will always be special to him, as he described in this chat at last year’s Winter Meetings here in Music City. Showalter’s hitting coach is former Sound Scott Coolbaugh (’92). It’s his second year in that role for the O’s after spending eight years in the Rangers organization, including as a major league hitting coach and as one at Triple-A in this league with Oklahoma City and Round Rock. He played for the Sounds in ’92 (Triple-A American Association, Reds) after Cincinnati acquired him via trade. He batted .255 with 23 RBIs in 59 games for the Sounds that season. Former Sound Yovani Gallardo (’07-’08) is on a playoff team for the fourth time in his career (also Milwaukee ’08, ’11, and Texas ’15). He went 6-8 with a 5.42 ERA in 23 starts this year for the O’s. J.J. Hardy (’09) is the other former Sound who plays for Baltimore. The 12-year veteran shortstop hit .269 with nine homers and 48 RBIs during the regular season. The Orioles also have a few other Nashville ties. Catcher Caleb Joseph is a Nashville native who starred at Lipscomb and served as a bullpen catcher for the Sounds during his college days, and infielders Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty were standouts at Vanderbilt.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter
Orioles hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (Photo courtesy of Mike Strasinger / Nashville Sounds)
Orioles pitcher Yovani Gallardo (Photo courtesy of Mike Strasinger / Nashville Sounds)
Toronto Blue Jays
How they made it: Won a Wild Card spot
Fun fact: The last time the Blue Jays reached the playoffs in consecutive seasons was their three-year run from 1991-93 that included a pair of World Series titles.
Two-fifths of the Blue Jays starting rotation are former Sounds. Nashville native R.A. Dickey (’07), the 2007 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year who went 13-6 with a 3.72 ERA in 31 games (22 starts) for the Sounds, went 10-15 with a 4.46 ERA in 30 appearances for the Jays, and Marco Estrada (’10, ’12-’13) went 9-9 with a 3.48 ERA in 29 starts for Toronto in another solid season.
Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey (Photo courtesy of Mike Strasinger / Nashville Sounds)
Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada (Photo courtesy of Mike Strasinger / Nashville Sounds)
How they made it: Won the AL Central
Fun fact: The Indians’ last playoff appearance was 2013 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to Tampa Bay. Their last division title was 2007, the year they blew a 3-games-to-1 lead in the ALCS against a Boston team that went on to beat the Rockies in the World Series.
The Indians have two former Sounds, one on the mound and one on their field staff. Reliever Dan Otero (’15) got back on track in a big way this season. He had been such a crucial part of the A’s teams that made the playoffs in ’13 and ’14 but had a 6.75 ERA in 41 appearances for them last year while posting a 1.95 ERA in 15 appearances for the Sounds. He was claimed off waivers by the Phillies last November and was claimed by the Indians a month later. This year he owned a 1.53 ERA in 62 appearances, third-most on the team. His and the Indians’ bullpen coach is former Sound Jason Bere (’93, ’95-’97), who pitched for 11 years in the big leagues from 1993-2003. In that ’93 campaign, he went 12-5 with a 3.47 ERA in 24 starts for a White Sox team that won its division. He’d made eight starts that year for the Sounds, made eight more over parts of three other seasons and was an AL all-star in ’94.
Indians reliever Dan Otero (Photo courtesy of Mike Strasinger / Nashville Sounds)
Indians bullpen coach Jason Bere
Boston Red Sox
How they made it: Won the AL East
Fun fact: Maybe this is another all-or-nothing year for the Red Sox. They finished last in the AL East in 2012, won the World Series in 2013, and then finished last in the AL East in 2014 and 2015.
The Red Sox don’t have any former Sounds on their team, but they do have two of the more recognizable Nashville-area natives who are in the big leagues: David Price and Mookie Betts. Price, the Murfreesboro native and former Vandy star, went 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA in 230 innings over 35 starts in his first year in Boston, and Betts, an Overton High School alum, hit .318 with 31 homers and 113 RBIs in 158 games during an all-star season.
How they made it: Won the AL West
Fun fact: The Rangers now have reached the playoffs five times in the last seven seasons. They moved from Washington to Texas in 1972 and played their 24 seasons without making the postseason.
The Rangers have four former Sounds, including three from the days of the Sounds’ affiliation with the Brewers. Sadly, slugger Prince Fielder (’05) is no longer part of that list, as he was forced to end his career due to lingering neck issues. Jeremy Jeffress (’14), who sported a 1.51 ERA in 30 appearances as a Sound during a resurgent 2014 season, and Jonathan Lucroy (’10, ’12), who played in 21 games for the Sounds in ’10 and rehabbed with them in ’12, became integral parts of the Rangers success after the Brewers dealt that duo on August 1. Lucroy hit 11 homers in 47 games for Texas after hitting 13 in 95 games for Milwaukee. A.J. Griffin (’15) joins Jeffress on the Rangers’ pitching staff and put together a solid comeback season. He made two starts for the Sounds last year during an injury-plagued season and was released by Oakland last November. Then he signed with the Rangers and ended up going 7-4 with a 5.07 ERA in 23 starts over 119 innings. Carlos Gomez (’10), who rehabbed with the Sounds for eight games in 2010, combined to hit .231 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs this season between Houston and Texas. The Rangers signed him in August following his release by the Astros.
Rangers reliever Jeremy Jeffress (Photo courtesy Mike Strasinger / Nashville Sounds)
Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (Photo courtesy Nashville Sounds)
Rangers pitcher A.J. Griffin (Photo courtesy of Mike Strasinger / Nashville Sounds)
Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez (Photo courtesy of Mike Strasinger / Nashville Sounds)
October baseball. Can’t beat it!
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