Fresno Grizzlies’ 2013 roster begins to take shape

The Fresno Grizzlies’ opening day roster won’t be finalized until Tuesday or Wednesday, media relations coordinator Chris Kutz says, but the parent-club San Francisco Giants made some roster moves Saturday that give us a clearer picture.

*** The Giants decided to go with three catchers (Buster Posey, Hector Sanchez, Guillermo Quiroz), so that meant reassigning outfielder Cole Gillespie to Triple-A Fresno. Gillespie joins a crowded outfield expected to include Francisco Peguero, who was optioned earlier in the week, Gary Brown, Roger Kieschnick and Juan Perez.

(That’s five guys for three spots, which means one of those guys may end up elsewhere or someone has to switch positions. Perez was originally drafted a second baseman, so that might be an option.)

*** Nick Noonan got the nod as a utility infielder (congrats to him), but it also leaves the Grizzlies kind of short on the infield. Todd Linden could be back at first base and Ehire Adrianza is a good bet shortstop. Brock Bond would be a natural fit at second base, but he strained a ribcage muscle a couple weeks ago and may not be ready opening day. Third base? We’ll see.

*** With Quiroz in the majors, look for Jackson Williams to be behind the plate most nights. Johnny Monell and Tyler LaTorre are other possibilities.

*** Brett Pill (knee) will begin the season on the disabled list and could rehab with the Grizzlies.

*** Yusmeiro Petit, second in the Pacific Coast League in ERA last season (3.46) cleared waivers and has accepted an assignment to Fresno. Look for him to front a starting rotation that includes prospects Chris Heston and Michael Kickham, up from Double-A Richmond, and perhaps former prospect Boof Bonser.

*** Heath Hembree pitched lights out at the end of spring training. He’ll be at the end of a bullpen that likely includes veterans Ramon Ramirez (who accepted a Triple-A assignment) and Jean Machi, lefty Dan Runzler, sinkerballer Steve Edlefsen and others.

*** Stay tuned for more. Grizzlies manager Bob Mariano, his coaching staff and most of the players are scheduled to fly into Fresno on Monday morning from Arizona.

Ski season ending: China Peak closing Sunday

China Peak will wrap up winter operations for the season Sunday, March 31, the ski resort at Lakeshore announced Saturday.

With the Sierra snowpack at less than 55% and recent warm temperatures, the conditions at China Peak deteriorated quickly over the past several weeks. Originally, China Peak had projected closing April 21.

So with Badger Pass in Yosemite also closing Sunday, the winter recreation season is all but over, it appears.

Well see if the spring conditions will speed up the opening of Kaiser Pass, the High Sierra route to Florence Lake, Mono Hot Springs and Edison Lake. Kaiser Pass generally opens around Memorial Day weekend.



Ex-boxing champ Magaña gives back to Valley youths

Former World Boxing Organization Inter-Continental super bantamweight champion Jesse Magaña will give a motivational speech to youths at Kings County Boxing at 5 p.m. Saturday.

“If you want to change a life, you need to talk to them in person. Any time we can talk to kids, we have a chance to guide them in the right direction,” Magaña said in a news release from Armona-based KC Boxing.

Jesse Magana, shown in this December 2004 file photo, is a former WBO champ who grew up in Fresno and later fought as a pro out of Hanford.

Magaña was born in Mexico but went to Clovis, Fresno and Roosevelt highs before getting his high school certificate at Hanford Adult School.

“I wasn’t the best kid, but boxing put me on the right track. Boxing isn’t all about fighting, it’s about dedication and applying yourself. It helped turn my life around,” Magaña said.

The event is open to the public.

Kings County Boxing is at 11440 Oak Ave. in Armona.


Bulldogs’ point guard Aaron Anderson finalizes transfer to Central Oklahoma

Fresno State point guard Aaron Anderson has finalized a transfer to Central Oklahoma, a move made to be closer to his family.

The 6-foot-3 freshman played in 27 games for the Bulldogs, with 12 starts. He averaged 1.7 points and 1.3 rebounds in 15 minutes per game and had 32 assists with 29 turnovers. His fiance is a student at Central Oklahoma, which is in his hometown of Edmond, Okla., and the couple has a young son.

Q&A with local bike racers Mark and Ruste Sasser

Mark Sasser of Fresno strains for more speed as he competes in a recent cyclocross race. (Courtesy Mark Sasser)

Ruste Sasser of Fresno makes her way around the course during a mountain bike race. (Mark Sasser/Special to The Bee)

(Author’s note: This is a longer, more expansive version of the Q&A that will run on the Out There page in Thursday’s editions.)

When it comes to bike racing, few Fresno families are more involved than the Sassers. Mark Sasser, 43, is a fixture in the local cycling scene, wife Ruste Sasser, 33, races both road and mountain bikes and 14-year-old Cameron Sasser is one of the area’s top juniors.

But the Sassers’ lives changed dramatically in early 2012 when Mark was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease. Despite tremors in his right hand and other associated symptoms, Mark continues to race and even captured the single-speed division in last fall’s Homegrown Cyclocross Series.

In advance of Saturday’s Big Sandy Point to Point Mountain Bike Race, The Bee’s Marek Warszawski went riding with Mark and Ruste Sasser and later spoke with them about their love of bike racing and how they are coping with Mark’s condition.

Question: What do you look forward to most about racing Big Sandy?

Mark’s answer:  It’s one of the few point-to-point mountain bike races left. Downieville and the Big Sandy are the only two I can think of. Twenty-five years ago there was lots of them, and now there’s not. So that elevates its status in my mind.

Ruste’s answer: Most races are laps of two or three miles, so people can go out and pre-ride and it’s not a big deal. But with the Big Sandy, because it’s so rural, there’s no option for that. If you want to ride it, you have to dive in and see what it has in store for you.

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Tonight’s Fresno Easter Baseball Classic final: It’s Memorial vs. Frontier

Memorial 17-year coach Pete Dalena will guide the Panthers into Wednesday night’s Fresno Easter Baseball Classic championship against Frontier at 7:30 at Clovis West . Both teams are seeking their first Classic title.

The Fresno Easter Baseball Classic, in its 44th year, will crown a first-time champion Wednesday night, when Memorial and Frontier play at 7:30 at Clovis West.

Memorial and Frontier closed the three-day, 34-team tournament’s regular phase earlier Wednesday by defeating Liberty-Bakersfield 9-3 and Davis 3-0 to finish with 4-0 records.

Clovis and Clovis North of the Tri-River Athletic Conference also went 4-0, but were denied final berths by tiebreakers.

The first tiebreaker is fewest runs allowed: Frontier gave up five and Memorial, Clovis North and Clovis seven each.

That then forced the second tiebreaker of fewest offensive strikeouts: Memorial had 11, Clovis North 22 and Clovis 25.

Clovis had 13 alone to Kerman’s Carlos Salazar Wednesday morning, but the Cougars countered with a no-hitter by Jake Gatewood in a 1-0 win.

Clovis North, meanwhile, defeated Sanger behind Matt Walker, who gave up one hit in six innings.

Wednesday’s final will mark only the second time in 16 years a team outside of the Tri-River Athletic Conference won it. The other was Bullard in 2004.

Frontier (12-3-1) of the Southwest Yosemite League have been moved up to Division I this year. The Titans, playing their sixth season of varsity baseball, captured D-II titles in 2010 and ’11.

Against Davis — 3 hours after Gatewood completed his gem — Frontier senior right-hander Eddie Torres lost a no-hitter with two outs in the seventh on Trey Golston’s single to center field.

Memorial (13-4), a D-II team from the Central Sequoia League, is the section’s comeback team of the year to date after going 8-20 last season.

Fresno Easter Baseball Classic: Day 2 live results, notes

Sanger coach David Cuellar, center, talks to Sawyer Pittman, left, and Josh Moreno, right, during the Apaches’ 12-4 victory against Hanford West at Clovis High’s Merriman Field on Monday at 44th annual Fresno Easter Baseball Classic game. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

8:28 p.m.:

** Frontier, another Classic unbeaten team, dominating Edison 7-1 in the fourth at Buchanan.

** Clovis 4-3 over Davis in the 6th.

** Clovis North 10-4 over Granite Bay in the 5th.


7:59 p.m.:

** Garces, 2-0 without giving up a run, still rolling — 5-0 over Clovis East in 4th. Rams at Clovis West at 10 a.m. Wednesday.


7:47 p.m.:

** Clovis bolts to 3-0 lead against Davis as sophomores Dakota Stilson (double) and Tevin Mitchell (single) and senior Logan Poisall (single) deliver two-out RBI hits in the second.

** And Clovis North, in a showdown of 2-0 tournament teams, takes a 5-2 lead against Granite Bay on two-run homers by Christian Rossi and Koby Cummings.


6:38 p.m.:

** As we speak, seven unbeaten teams: Clovis (2-0), Granite Bay (2-0), Kerman (3-0), Memorial (3-0), Garces (2-0), Clovis North (2-0) and Frontier (2-0).

** So here’s all scores from the afternoon round: Hanford 18, Porterville 7 (5 inn); Madera South 9, Hoover 4; Kerman 4, Sierra-Manteca 2; Lemoore 9, Laguna Creek 3; North 7, Liberty-Madera Ranchos 6, Madera 10, Reedly 0; Central 7, Franklin 5.

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Brock Bond (on way to Fresno Grizzlies?) wins Harry S. Jordan Award in Giants camp

Brock Bond wins the Harry S. Jordan Award given to the best player in his first major-league camp. (Associated Press photo)

Brock Bond likely won’t make the San Francisco Giants’ opening day roster, but the 27-year-old infielder was recognized for his effort Tuesday.

Bond is this year’s winner of  the Harry S. Jordan Award, given annually during spring training to the player who makes the biggest impression during his first major-league camp. The award is voted by Giants players, coaches and training staff.

During six minor-league seasons, the last three with the Fresno Grizzlies, Bond owns a career batting average of .313 with a .410 on-base percentage. This spring, he hit .435 (10 for 23) with two home runs in 13 Cactus League games.

Bond was reassigned to Triple-A Fresno on March 14, so there’s a good chance he opens the season in a Grizzlies uniform. He hit .332 with a .412 on-base percentage here last season.

In other notes:

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Fresno Easter Baseball Classic: Day 1 thoughts, observations

Thoughts and observations concluding the opening day of the 44th American Ambulance Fresno Easter Baseball Classic. It will continue through Wednesday:

10:37 p.m.:

** Final scores from late games: Del Campo 3, Fresno 2 (8 inn); Memorial 5, Central 1; Clovis 5, Franklin 4; Liberty-Bakersfield 8, Clovis East 2; Granite Bay 5, Clovis West 1; Clovis North 7, Liberty-Madera Ranchos 0; and Edison 6, Davis 5.

** Teams with 2-0 records after the first of three days: Clovis, Clovis North, Memorial, Kerman, Del Campo-Fair Oaks and Granite Bay.

** Game of the Day Tuesday: Granite Bay at Clovis North, 7 p.m.

** McCarthy Tatum’s leadoff double and Alan Crowley’s walkoff RBI single in the seventh lifted Clovis past Franklin.

** Jack Labowsky’s four-hitter and 11 strikeouts, and Christian Rossi’s three-run double powered Clovis North past Liberty-Madera Ranchos.

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Permit applications due Sunday for Yosemite’s Half Dome

A hiker pulls her way up the cables, the final obstacle along the hike to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. (Photo by The Associated Press)

If you want to hike to the top of Half Dome this year, pick any day but Saturday.

Last week, Yosemite National Park officials released some interesting statistics about the 2013 Half Dome permit lottery, which continues through Sunday.

It isn’t surprising to learn that Saturday is the most requested day. As of March 15, 36% of all permit requests were for Saturday. Friday (14%) was the second-most requested day, followed by Sunday and Tuesday (both 11%), Monday (10%) and Wednesday and Thursday (both 9%).

Two hundred and twenty five permits for each day are available through the preseason lottery.  Permit applications are due Sunday at Applicants will receive an email with lottery results on April 15 or can get them online.

In addition, approximately 50 permits per day will be available through a daily lottery. (The exact number will be based on estimated no-shows and cancellations.) Applications for the daily lottery will be accepted two days before the date of the hike (from midnight to 1 p.m.), and applicants will be notified later that day.

Concerned about overcrowding and visitor safety on the Half Dome cables, where hikers use handrails to hoist themselves up the steeply sloping granite, park officials began requiring permits on certain days in 2010 and seven days a week in 2011.

An extensive visitor use study, published in January, established the permits as permanent.

Rangers are planning to erect the Half Dome cables May 24 and take them down Oct. 14, but that could change based on the conditions.