As the newest leader of the Fresno Grizzlies, Rodney Linares hopes to follow the script of parent club and World Series champion Houston Astros.
The Grizzlies opened its Pacific Coast League (PCL) 2018 Triple-A baseball season on the road on April 5 in Nevada in a 5-game series against the Reno Aces. As of press time (April 9), the series was tied at 2-2 prior to Monday’s final game. Fresno’s home opener at Chukchansi Park is Tuesday (April 10) night against the Tacoma Rainiers at 7:05 p.m. Fresno will play seven-consecutive home (one game per day) games with three days against Tacoma then four games against Reno.
Linares glanced the nearly-completed field from the Grizzlies dugout as lead gardener David Jacinto and his crew shaped the pitcher’s mound and other parts of the infield. Nearby crewman were prepared to paint and make other improvements at Chukchansi Park, where a full house of baseball spectators will again fill the downtown stadium for the home opener and the end-of-game show of fireworks.
Linares, 40, is fresh off his annual winter league self-imposed assignment in his native Dominican Republic and eager to get started with the Grizzlies. He was announced as the new manager of the Grizzlies in January, but has only arrived in Fresno just days ago and already fallen in love with the Valley’s cuisine.
“I like the stadium, the food, you know, the Mexican food. We want to succeed here in Fresno with the team and help the community in anyway we can,” said Linares, who will find the Taco Truck Throwdown 8 a special treat among the other Grizzlies promotions, including Cinco de Mayo, Bark in the Park (bring your dog to the stadium), Friday Night Fireworks and Astros Replica Championship Ring Giveaway.
Linares hopes to deliver players to their wish of playing the big leagues. His intention is to send prospects to the World Series champion Houston Astros. A married father of two boys, Linares is Domincan, but was born in New York. He has 12 years experience coaching minor league baseball. He assumes coaching responsibilities over Tony DeFrancesco, who is now with the New York Mets Triple-A club in Las Vegas.
With just a few months time off each year, Linares admits he always is thinking about the sport.
“When I finish coaching here in the United States, wherever I’m coaching, I return to my Dominican Republic and coach over there. Right now I don’t have a team there because my contract terminated with the team I had there last year,” said Linares.
“We want to compete, compete compete. The ultimate goals is to win a championship, bring the Triple-A championship here. And help with the player’s development and help the team, the MLB (Major League Baseball) Houston Astros, to another World Series championship,” he said.
In describing his country and any similarities to the Central Valley, Linares said: “It’s hot; tropical. There’s very good food and a lot of baseball. All that we do is baseball.”
Among the promotional events this year during the Grizzlies season is Cinco de Mayo, Taco Truck Throwdown 8, Bark in the Park (Bring your down to Chukchansi Park), Houston Astros World Series Championship Ring giveaway, Star Wars Night, and Friday Night Fireworks, among other events throughout the season.
Alongside the Grizzlies returning 20 players to this season’s roster is outfielder Kyle Tucker, MLB.com’s No. 16-ranked player.
Other returners are right-handed pitchers Rogelio Armenteros, David Paulino, Jacob Dorris, Mike Hauschild, Francis Martes and Brendan McCurry. Southpaw pitchers returners are Buddy Boshers, Reymín Guduan and Kent Emanuel.
Returning to the infield are Tony Kemp, Jack Mayfield, Tyler White and A.J. Reed. Outfielder returners are Alejandro Garcia, Drew Ferguson and Jon Kemmer.
Grizzlies 7 home games through April 16
Tacoma at 7:05 p.m.
Tacoma at 6:35 p.m.
Tacoma at 7:05 p.m.
Reno Aces at 7:05 p.m.
Reno at 7:05 p.m.
Reno at 1:05 p.m.
Reno at 11:05 a.m.