Play ball! Today marks the opening day of the 2013 Major League Baseball season. Leading off will be the Texas Rangers at Houston Astros tonight at 8 pm/ET on ESPN (check your local listings). Most teams will begin their 2013 campaigns tomorrow, including all those featuring Native players.
The three current American Indian Major League Baseball players–Kyle Lohse, Jacoby Ellsubry and Joba Chamberlain–each have a World Series ring. Shane Victorino, Native Hawaiian, also has a title ring. As these players lead their teams' charges into the new season, ICTMN takes a look at what we can expect in 2013.
Joba Chamberlain: Healthy Arm, Disturbing Mustache
Joba Chamberlain, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, New York Yankees pitcher, is "as good as I've seen [him] since he's gone back to the bullpen," a scout tells Sports Illustrated. "He was 92 to 95 MPH this spring and threw good sliders and curveballs effortlessly." Perhaps not as good to see is the bushy upper-lip warmer Chamberlain's grown in spring training.
Chamberlain, his new 'stache and the New York Yankees welcome archrival Boston Red Sox to the Bronx tomorrow, April 1. First pitch is set for 1:05 pm/ET and scheduled to air on ESPN (check your local listings).
A Native One-Two: Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino
Speaking of the Red Sox, Boston now is projected to have a one-two Native combo in their lineup, thanks to an off-season signing of the Flyin' Hawaiian, Shane Victorino. Jacoby Ellsbury, Navajo and member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, who was limited to only 74 games last season due to injury, is back and ready to leadoff. Rotowire.com is projecting a .301 batting average, 13-homer and 59-RBI season for Ellsbury, with 34 stolen bases–a return to his 2011 form when he finished second in American League MVP voting. Victorino, Native Hawaiian, is liked, says one scout, "when he doesn't have to be the leadoff guy or hit for power. When he doesn't try to hit home runs, he's a good player." Well, he won't be leading off, Ellsbury will, but in small, hitter-friendly Fenway Park, we can't be so sure he won't by swinging for the fences.
Brew Crew's Indigenous Arms: Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo
The Milwaukee Brewers won–finally–the Kyle Lohse sweepstakes, landing the ace starting pitcher last week after signing the free agent to a three-year, $33-million deal. Lohse, Nomlaki Nation, finished seventh in National League Cy Young voting last season, and boy can the Brewers use his arm. Notes a rival scout: "The problem with [the Brewers] is the pitching. Other than signing [Lohse] they've done nothing to address it."
Well, they do still have staff ace Yovani Gallardo, who is Purépecha, an indigenous people living in what is today the northwestern region of the Mexican state of Michoacán. Gallardo is projected to win 16 games this year. One thing to keep an eye out for this year: Taking place six games at Miller Park this season will be a special program to honor our veterans, created by a Native Warrior from the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin.
The Brewers will start their season tomorrow, at 2:05 pm/ET, at home versus the Colorado Rockies. Fox Sports NW will carry the game live on TV (check your local listings).