Tacoma Rainiers

Another Triple-A All-Star Game in Tacoma? Rainiers president wants in

Pacific Coast League Fresno Grizzlies' Colin Moran rounds the bases after he hit a solo home run against International League pitcher Tom Eshelman in the second inning of the Minor League baseball AAA All-Star Game, Wednesday, July 12, 2017 in Tacoma.
Pacific Coast League Fresno Grizzlies' Colin Moran rounds the bases after he hit a solo home run against International League pitcher Tom Eshelman in the second inning of the Minor League baseball AAA All-Star Game, Wednesday, July 12, 2017 in Tacoma. AP

What does Tacoma Rainiers president Aaron Artman think about hosting the Triple-A All-Star game again someday?

“Prior to this, I didn’t think I would want to,” he said. “And now I think I would – because it’s been a blast.”

Only four cities have been a two-time host of the Triple-A All-Star Game since 1988, and no team has hosted it more than that – for good reason.

Artman said hosting this event has been like preparing for a season within the season, and that most executives say one time hosting this is enough.

“It’s definitely harder to be the host for this,” Artman said. “But it’s been a blast. It’s been really fun. And I think we would be in the rotation again.”

It started with the Home Run Derby on Monday. Then Tuesday’s media day and the game on Wednesday.

Combine that will three days of beautiful weather and a clear view of Mt. Rainier and Cheney Stadium’s intimate charm became amplified, Artman said.

“I’ve been to all the ball parks and there are some that are newer, some that are twice or three times as expensive,” he said. “But the executives I’ve talked to have been absolutely in love with this place.”

But as he looked out his office window just before Wednesday’s main event he thought back to a comment he made – that people would have laughed about Tacoma hosting this event 10 years ago.

Rainiers owner Mikal Thomsen stepped onto the field just before Wednesday’s game. He said he has been coming to Triple-A games in this city since he and his brother were about three years old.

“This is for Tacoma,” he said over the loudspeaker. “And this is for the South Sound.”

OLD MAN, YOUNG GAME

Of the 50 players voted into the game, only three are older than 30. None are older than Rainiers reliever Jean Machi.

Machi, who turned 35 in February, is as accomplished as any of his fellow All-Stars. His biggest baseball accomplishment was made aware when Machi donned his San Francisco Giants 2014 World Series ring.

Machi said he doesn’t remember the last time he wore his ring before Tuesday’s autograph session. He also wouldn’t disclose where he keeps it, though he said he keeps it in the United States as opposed to his home country of Venezuela.

Young players, who are working toward something Machi has already earned, typically dominate the Triple-A All-Star game. But Machi’s previous major league success doesn’t have an impact on his desire to return to baseball’s biggest stage.

Whether it be running, playing catch or showing up to the field as early as he can, Machi said he works toward a return to the MLB every day.

“I’m ready for when they call me to come up,” Machi said. “I’m waiting for the opportunity to come back to the big leagues.”

HOME SWEET HOME

Durham Bulls pitcher Andrew Kittredge is the only player on either roster who can call this place home. He said he is enjoying the feeling of being back in the Pacific Northwest.

“Anytime during the course of the season you get to go home, it's a blessing,” said Kittredge, the former Mariners draft pick who is from Spokane and played at UW and at Cheney Stadium with the Rainiers.

Kittredge played four years of baseball at Ferris High School and in two at UW he started 22 games, 15 of them coming in his sophomore year.

After his college career, he spent six seasons in the minors playing with various teams within the Mariners organization. He spent 2013-16 seasons with the Rainiers.

Now Kittredge has a new home, after the Mariners conducted a five-player trade last November that sent him and two other players to Tampa Bay, in exchange for Richie Shaffer and Taylor Motter. Shaffer was also selected as an all-star, but is now with the Cleveland Indians organization.

In 29 games with the Bulls, Kittredge has produced a solid season at the break. He has an ERA of 1.93, with 54 strikeouts.

SHORT HOPS

Brad Cheney, the son of the late Ben Cheney, threw out the first pitch. … Durham had the most all-stars of any team, with four players. The most in Triple-A history is six players, which Charlotte had in 2006.

Staff writers Luke Garza and Terrence Holmes contributed to this report

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