RSSInside The RailCats
GARY | A native of Wisconsin who attended Michigan Tech, Michelle Fields arrived in Northwest Indiana in 1995.
Moved around the Midwest by U.S. Steel, Fields returned to Gary last August as the plant manager for the primary side of U.S. Steel's Gary Works.
She quickly became a part of U.S. Steel's sports scene, playing on the company's softball and basketball teams.
"She's our resident best female athlete," said Al Spajer, the Director of Employee Relations at U.S. Steel Gary Works.
So months ago, after U.S. Steel signed a new agreement to keep the naming rights at the park, Fields was tabbed to throw out the first pitch for Thursday's RailCats' opening day.
GARY | The RailCats open their season at home for the first time since 2010, and the last time it was this early in May was 2008.
Over that time, the 'Cats have opened in Fargo-Moorhead (2009), Grand Prairie (2011) and St. Paul (2012). The team is 1-3 in season openers at home and 4-7 overall in the first game of the year.
5:02 p.m. RailCats are wearing new batting practice unis to open 2013. They're maroon with green numbers and green batting helmets. The front of the red shirts have the RailCats' claw holding the RC baseball.
Lineups for Thursday's game:
The RailCats will be the first American home to right-handed pitcher Takahiro Matsuka, a reliever with Japanese Major League experience.
The right-hander had a 4.50 ERA in 22 innings in the Japan Central League and Japan Pacific League in 2009 and 2010. Last season, he played 15 innings over 16 appearances with a 5.40 ERA in the minor league system of the Nippon Ham Fighters.
The team also signed outfielder Drew Martinez, a 10th-round pick by the Los Angeles Angeles in 2011. Last season, Martinez batted .259 with 19 RBI and 37 runs scored in 58 games between the Angels’ Rookie and Class A affiliates. He was 17-for-20 in stolen base attempts.
To make space in the outfield for Martinez, the RailCats traded outfielder Trevor Willis to the Schaumburg Boomers in the Frontier League as part of a three-team deal. The RailCats will receive a player to be named later from the Rockford Aviators.
The RailCats will host their annual Open Player Tryout at U. S. Steel Yard on Thursday, May 2. The tryout costs $50, which must be paid in cash only on the day of the tryout. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. for position players and 11:30 a.m. for pitchers.
Players who are trying out must bring their own baseball equipment, including cleats, gloves, wooden bats and catcher’s gear. Upon arriving at U. S. Steel Yard, players should enter through the RailCats Entry Gate on Stadium Plaza – between Fourth and Fifth Avenue – and head to the field for registration. There is no need to preregister before the day of the tryout.
The RailCats return all-time home run leader Cristian Guerrero to the team with the signing announced Monday.
“I’m thrilled to have Cristian back in a RailCats uniform,” manager Greg Tagert said in a release Monday. “I know he’s excited and he’s been such a tremendous contributor to our success over the years. I have already heard from some of his teammates and they are ecstatic about it.”
Guerrero, 32, is the RailCats hit 58 home runs in four seasons and also holds the single-season record of 19, set in 2010. The Bani, Dominican Republic native is also the career leader in slugging percentage (.483) and OPS (.842), and is tied for third-all time in RBI (256).
Guerrero was granted his release from the team last year, was signed by Winnipeg then dealt to Sioux Falls. Last season, he batted .249 with 59 RBIs for the Pheasants while leading the team and ranking 11th in the league with 15 home runs.
Guerrero, the cousin of former Major League start Vladimir Guerrero, is best known for hitting home runs in five consecutive at-bats on the same day during a doubleheader on July 9, 2010 at the Rockford RiverHawks. He became just the second professional baseball player ever to accomplish that feat and earned national recognition.
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