Baseball

Area baseball beat: Joe Thurston coaching after 16 seasons playing pro

Houston Astros second baseman Joe Thurston turns a double play as Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper tries to break up the play during a spring training game March 4, 2012, in Viera, Fla.
Houston Astros second baseman Joe Thurston turns a double play as Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper tries to break up the play during a spring training game March 4, 2012, in Viera, Fla. Associated Press file

In 16 seasons playing professional baseball, Joe Thurston suited up for 29 teams and played in 14 leagues. The career of the former Sacramento City College infielder has taken him across the United States and into Mexico, South America, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Thurston, 35, is now a coach with the Portland Sea Dogs, the Boston Red Sox’s Double-A team in the Eastern League. Despite coaching for the first time, he hasn’t given up on playing. If the Sea Dogs need his services, the Red Sox wouldn’t hesitate to activate him.

Thurston is a classic baseball junky who regularly played year-round. In eight seasons and 273 games in winter ball, he hit .276, playing for Pastora (2006), Margarita (2007) and Lara (2011-14) in the Venezuelan Winter League, for Ponce (2008) in the Puerto Rican Winter League, for Obregon (2010) in the Mexican Pacific Winter League and for Licey (2014) in the Dominican Winter League.

Thurston’s career has been mixed. While his major-league stats are Mario Mendoza-like, his minor-league stats are impressive.

Thurston, a fourth-round selection by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1999, has played for eight major-league organizations: the Dodgers (1999-2005), New York Yankees (2005), Philadelphia (2006-07, 2012), Boston (2008), St. Louis (2009), Atlanta (2010), Florida (2011) and Minnesota (2012). He reached the majors with the Dodgers, Phillies, Red Sox, Cardinals and Marlins.

He played in 184 games in parts of seven seasons in the majors and hit .226 in 337 at-bats. Most of those numbers – 124 games and 267 at-bats – came in 2009, when he played the entire season with the Cardinals.

His minor-league statistics: 1,775 games, 6,730 at-bats, 1,031 runs, 1,965 hits, 365 doubles, 84 triples, 117 home runs, 809 RBIs, 222 stolen bases and a .292 batting average.

Catching up

There was lots of movement between the last pitch of 2014 and the beginning of this season.

▪ Released were outfielders Cody Keefer (Davis), David Popkins (UC Davis) and Nick Baligod (Sacramento City); catchers Dwight Childs (Elk Grove) and Toby DeMello (Roseville); first baseman Lydell Moseby (Granite Bay, American River); and pitchers Kyle Castro (Pleasant Grove), Dylan Chavez (Pleasant Grove, American River), Hunter Carnevale (Granite Bay), Kyle Porter (Oak Ridge), Jeff McKenzie (Oak Ridge), Justin Fitzgerald (UC Davis), Pete Perez (River City, American River) and Dan Child (Jesuit).

▪ Pitchers granted free agency and still looking for work are Justin Souza (Galt, Sacramento City), Pete Ruiz (Nevada Union), Drew Carpenter (Sacramento City) and Bryan Evans (UC Davis).

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▪ Catcher Michael Marjama (Granite Bay, Sacramento City) was traded by the Chicago White Sox to Tampa Bay for cash.

▪ Pitcher Preston Guilmet (Oakmont) was purchased by Pittsburgh from Baltimore and then claimed off waivers by Toronto. On Mother’s Day, the right-hander was designated for assignment and removed from the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster. He was picked up by the Rays and assigned to Triple-A Durham.

▪ Catcher Tyler LaTorre (UC Davis) and pitcher Josh Roenicke (Nevada Union) were signed by Milwaukee; pitcher Casey Weathers (Laguna Creek, Sacramento City) by Cleveland; pitcher Zach Phillips (Galt, Sacramento City) by the Chicago White Sox; pitcher Ryan Mattheus (Galt, Sacramento City) by the Los Angeles Angels before being claimed by Cincinnati; pitcher Tyler Robertson (Bella Vista) by Miami and first baseman Lars Anderson (Jesuit) by the Dodgers.

▪ Catcher Jake Rodriguez (Elk Grove) went on the voluntarily retired list after hitting .157 in two minor-league seasons in the Houston organization.

▪ Pitcher Mitch Lively (Sacramento State) re-signed with Washington and infielder Eric Farris (Johnson) with Minnesota.

▪ Bill Geivett (Highlands, Sacramento City) resigned as Colorado’s senior vice president of major-league operations.

▪ Infielder Daniel Descalso (UC Davis) signed a two-year, $3.6 million contract with Colorado after St. Louis granted him free agency.

▪ Pitcher Vance Worley (McClatchy) won his arbitration case against Pittsburgh and was awarded $2.45million.

Mark McDermott is a freelance writer specializing in Sacramento-area baseball. Contact him at egmacker@yahoo.com

Joe Thurston’s career

Years

Team

League

1999

Yakima

Northwest

1999-2000

San Bernardino

California

2001

Jacksonville

South Atlantic

2002-05

Las Vegas

Pacific Coast

2002-04

Los Angeles

National

2005

Columbus

International

2006

Scranton Wilkes-Barre

International

2006

Philadelphia

National

2006

Pastora

Venezuelan Winter

2007

Reading

Eastern

2007

Ottawa

International

2007

Margarita

Venezuelan Winter

2008

Pawtucket

International

2008

Boston

American

2008

Ponce

Puerto Rican Winter

2009

St. Louis

National

2010

Gwinnett

International

2010

Obregon

Mexican Pacific Winter

2011

New Orleans

Pacific Coast

2011

Miami

National

2011

Lara

Venezuelan Winter

2012

York

Atlantic

2012

Rochester

International

2012

Lehigh Valley

International

2012

Lara

Venezuelan Winter

2013

Lancaster

Atlantic

2013

Yucatan

Mexican

2013

Lara

Venezuelan Winter

2014

Campeche

Mexican

2014

Oaxaca

Mexican

2014

Lara

Venezuelan Winter

2014

Licey

Dominican Winter

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