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Indians get ready for season opener

Spokane Indians pitchers Ryan Rodenbaugh and Ovispo De Los Santos (22), get in some work at Avista Stadium. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Indians pitchers Ryan Rodenbaugh and Ovispo De Los Santos (22), get in some work at Avista Stadium. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Don’t blame the guys from Texas and North Carolina for wondering Wednesday what passes for summer baseball in Spokane.

Cool, wet and windy weather descended on the second day of the Spokane Indians’ three-day minicamp at Avista Stadium, forcing the evolving Northwest League team to get resourceful.

Pitchers still braved the elements, but hitters shuttled to the Warehouse near Gonzaga University for indoor batting practice.

“The first day (of minicamp) went great,” said Tim Hulett, set to begin his fourth year as Indians manager. “The second day weather was an issue, we thought, but we went over to an inside facility and got many of the swings we needed to get.”

The forecast for today’s final practice, from 6 to 9 p.m., is slightly better, and Friday’s season opener at home against the Tri-City Dust Devils is supposed to bring warmer temperatures and a decreased chance of precipitation.

Fate also rained on the Indians in the afternoon as shortstop Jonathan Roof, the highest pick in camp from this year’s draft, flew to Arizona to rehabilitate a cracked rib. Hulett said Roof, an eighth-round selection from Michigan State, was injured while diving for a ball during his final college game.

That left ninth-rounder Zach Osborne, a right-hander from Louisiana-Lafayette, and 10th-rounder Jared Hoying, a converted outfielder from Toledo, as the top draft picks remaining.

“Today was my first time on the mound since a (1-0) regional win (June 4) against Rice,” said Osborne, who heard he’ll start Monday’s road opener at Vancouver. … “I’m ready to start playing. I’ve been playing all year, so I’d rather do that than practice.”

Hoying’s season at Toledo ended May 28, but he kept loose by playing a few games in a wood-bat summer league. Hoying played shortstop his entire life until late in April, when he committed three errors during a 9-0 loss to Notre Dame.

“The next day, the coach called me in and asked, ‘What do you think about center field?’ I said, ‘What do you think?’” Hoying said.

Hoying’s outfield move may be beneficial because the Indians’ top shortstop appears to be 17-year-old Jurickson Profar, who led Curacao to the Little League World Series title in 2004.

The other “baby” is camp is right-hander Nicholas McBride, who just turned 19. McBride was drafted in the fifth round last year from Ragsdale (N.C.) High.

“Saturday will be my pro debut,” McBride said. … “I’m excited for the big day. Finally, one of the games that goes down in the Rangers’ books.”

The Texas Rangers, Spokane’s parent club, used six of their first seven draft picks this year on high-schoolers, who aren’t likely to be shipped straight to the short-season Class A NWL. The exception, third baseman Mike Olt of the University of Connecticut, a supplemental pick in the first round, hasn’t signed yet.

The Rangers also have to sign right-hander Justin Grimm, fifth round, Georgia; catcher Brett Nicholas, sixth round, Missouri; and left-hander James Reyes, seventh round, Elon (N.C.) University. All are prospects for Spokane.

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