Tag: Omar Ramirez

Chukars beat Owlz on Fourth of July, 3-1

By LUKE O’ROARK | @LukeORoark
Loroark@postregister.com

Another Independence Day, another Chukars win.

In front of a sold-out crowd of 3,686, Idaho Falls beat the Orem Owlz, 3-1, Wednesday thanks to C.J. Eldred’s solid command on the mound and Tyler James quick base running.

Chukars’ Connor Mayes reacts after Chukars’ Nathan Eaton scores in the second inning as the Chukars take on Grand Junction Rockies at Melaleuca Field on Thursday, June 28, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Eldred worked the Owlz’ struggling offense with five strikeouts and trust in his defense by putting the ball in play. The Chukars allowed just one error — a fielding error from third baseman Nate Eaton — in the top of the eighth to allow the Owlz’ only run.

The Owlz would never threaten again, as Eldred (3-0) went seven innings, allowing just three hits and one walk. Robert Garcia recorded his second save of the season, closing the door in the final two frames.

“It was nice,” Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said. “We had a rough series in Ogden, the pitching wasn’t there. We struggled on the mound. … It’s nice to see the pitching keep us in the game. I always say that: just keep us in the game. Just go out there, we don’t need a shut out, just keep us in the game. We have a good offensive team.”

For James, the speedster from Slidell, Louisiana, went 2 for 3 and kept the Chukars’ offense honest with four stolen bases.

James said he’s pride himself on being aggressive on the bases this season. He leads the Pioneer League with 12 stolen bases this summer. The second? Ian Dawkins and teammate Kyle Isbel with seven.

“Well, the coaching staff told me that I need to be a little bit more aggressive and trust my speed,” James said. “And be a game changer.

The Chukars scored their three runs early, with Eaton hitting in a triple to score James during the bottom of the first. James then scored the Chukars’ next two runs on wild pitches from Nick Jobst.

“That is my game: get on base anyway I can whether it’s a walk, hit, error, bunt. And just try to score runs. Try to get in scoring position for the guys that knock me in,” James added.

Jose Caraballo went 2 for 4 at the plate, as the Chukars (sporting nifty, firework jerseys) collected eight hits.

“The jerseys are pretty sweet,” James added with a smile.

Player(s) of the game

Tyler James and CJ Eldred. The quick centerfielder went 2 for 3, including two stolen bases in the bottom of the third before sliding home on a wild pitch. He scored two runs.

Eldred (3-0) was solid on the mound. He shut out the Owlz during his seven innings pitched, allowing just three hits and one walk.

Quotable

“That is the Kansas City Royal’s identity. Run, run, run, run, run. I like to run (the bases, put pressure on defenses). That’s the Royals’ identity. And personally, I’m that type of manager.” — Omar Ramirez on Tyler James’ stolen bases.

Notable

– Idaho Falls sold out Melaleuca Field Wednesday, hosting 3,686.

– The Chukars have not loss on July 4th since 2015.

– During the bottom of the first, Reed Rohlman’s bat slipped out of his hands, eventually landing in the stands behind the first baseline. No one was injured.

– Orem starting pitcher Hector Yan injuried himself after one inning pitched. He allowed one hit, one run (earned) and one walk.

– Nate Eaton hit in his fourth triple Wednesday.

Upnext

The Chukars (12-8) return to Melaleuca Field Thursday to play game two of three against Orem (7-13). First pitch is at 7:15 p.m.

Chukars notebook: Some split on new MiLB extra innings changes

Chukars’ Tyler James is called out at third as the Chukars take on Grand Junction Rockies at Melaleuca Field on Thursday, June 28, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

By LUKE O’ROARK | Loroark@postregister.com
@LukeORoark

When the Idaho Falls Chukars and Grand Junction Rockies went to extra innings Friday at Melaleuca Field, Chukars fans saw something they probably haven’t seen: a free base runner starting on second at the start of every extra inning.

In March, the National Association of Professional Baseball incorporated a new rule regarding extra innings: if a minor league game goes to extra innings, both teams start with a base runner on second at the beginning of inning. The base runner at second is the inning’s leadoff hitter and is statistically counted as runner who’s reaching on an error (for purposes of determining earned runs), but no errors shall be charged.

This new policy was seen at Melaleuca Field for the first time Friday in the Chukars’ 7-6 12-inning win.

Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said the new rule doesn’t change their offensive gameplan much. Before Kyle Isbel ended the game with an RBI single to left field, both teams utilized small ball tactics. While the rule isn’t necessarily new to the minor league system — Ramirez said the Arizona League utilized the rule last summer — he was supportive of the new overhaul, as it saves team’s pitching and has the potential to keep players healthy.

“It depends on the hitter. Are we bunting or not?” said Ramirez when asked if strategies change due to the new rule. “Like, we’re not going to bunt when (Reed Rohlman) came to bat. Because he can get a double, hit it. With (Offerman Collado) or (Tyler James) we can bunt it. It depends on the hitter.”

“Let’s see how long it stays,” Ramirez added.

Chukars’ Nick Hutchins heads to third on a ground hit as the Chukars take on the Ogden Raptors during opening day at Melaleuca Field on Friday, June 15, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@posteegister.com

The policy was created to try to keep players healthy, as well as speed up minor league games. The average time of a nine-inning game in the minor leagues was two hours, 45 minutes in 2016 and 2:29 last year, according to ESPN.

Friday’s game, while anecdotal, finished in three hours, 58 minutes.

“We believe these changes to extra innings will enhance the fans’ enjoyment of the game and will become something that the fans will look forward to on nights where the game is tied late in the contest,” NAPBL president Pat O’Conner said in a March 14 report from ESPN. “Player safety has been an area of growing concern for our partners at the Major League Baseball level, and the impact that lengthy extra innings games has on pitchers, position players and an entire organization was something that needed to be addressed.”

Chukars’ designated hitter Nate Eaton said he was unaware of the rule change until Friday.

“I honestly didn’t know (about the new rule) until they said that I was the base runner when I went out there,” said Eaton, who finished 4 for 5 at the plate with two doubles. “I probably haven’t had that since I was 12-years-old. I mean, I don’t agree with the rule because I don’t think it should be easier to score runs quicker. If the game is going that long, it’s going that long for a reason and that’s because good baseball is being played, or bad baseball is being played on one side.”

Eaton said the game could be just as prolonged due to how offensive-orientated minor league games are.

“Oh yes, because you could easily score off a bunt and then a hit or sacrifice fly. Or go 0-0, just like we did there, and it keeps going,” Eaton said.

Standings (as of June 30th)

Pioneer League North

Great Falls Voyagers (CWS) 8-6

Helena Brewers (MIL) 8-6

Missoula Osprey (ARI) 7-6

Billings Mustangs (CIN) 4-9

Pioneer League South

Idaho Falls Chukars (KC) 10-5

Ogden Raptors (LAD) 9-6

Grand Junction Rockies (COL) 6-9

Orem Owlz (LAA) 5-10

Increasing stock

J.C. Cloney, Kyle Isbel and Jose Caraballo.

After his batting average hit a lowly .111 on June 19, Caraballo has garnered a hit in eight-straight games for Idaho Falls. He’s gone 12-35 at the plate since his hitting streak started.

For Cloney, the 2017 ninth-round pick out of Castaic, Cali., has molded into the Chukars’ ace. The reliable southpaw is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.35. He’s struck 21 batters out — including 11 during his first start — and has allowed three earned runs on 14 hits.

As with Isbel, he’s batted .372 since joining the Chukars on June 19. He went 3 for 6 Friday night and gave the Chukars their third-straight win after hitting in Tyler James with an RBI single to left field in the bottom of the 12th.

Decreasing stock

Tyler Gray. In his first two starts with the Chukars, Gray owns a 15.88 ERA. He’s allowed 10 earned runs on 11 hits in 5.2 innings of work. He’s struck out seven and walked two.

Recent transactions (from June 24 to June 30)

– Left-handed pitcher Derrick Adams was assigned to Idaho Falls from Burlington on June 28.

– Right-handed pitcher Daniel Duarte was loaned to Idaho Falls from Tigres de Quintana Roo on June 30.

– Second baseman Carlos Diaz was assigned to Idaho Falls from the AZL Royals on June 30.

– Idaho Falls released left-handed pitcher Michael Messier on June 30. Messier was with the Chukars for 18 days (June 12).

– Idaho Falls released left-handed pitcher Joey Markus on June 30. Markus was with the Chukars for 18 days (June 12).

Upcoming

Idaho Falls is amidst a four-game away series at Ogden. The Chukars will be back Wednesday, July 4, to host Orem for three games. First pitch Wednesday is 4:30 p.m.

Chukars’ notebook: Olloque, fast start for Chukars

Chukars’ Nick Hutchins heads to third on a ground hit as the Chukars take on the Ogden Raptors during opening day at Melaleuca Field on Friday, June 15, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@posteegister.com

By LUKE O’ROARK | Loroark@postregister.com
@LukeORoark

You better get to Melalueca Field quick: some of the Chukars’ best are moving up rather quickly.

After Manny Olloque blasted two home runs against Ogden, he was recently bumped up to Lexington.

At Chukars media day earlier in the month, he mentioned the difficulty of moving up and down and around the country for minor league ball.

“You definitely have to have to have faith that’s for sure,” Olloque said on June 13. “You just gotta trust the process and can’t look to far ahead of that. Just play everyday and try not to worry too much about the other little things. … I got caught up with it this year, you know, but I’ve been staying strong with it and just having fun.”

Despite playing in triple-A Omaha for nine games earlier in the year, Olloque came back down to the rookie-A level, bring some experience and early season offense to Melaleuca Field. Chukars manager Omar Ramirez said Olloque wasn’t going to be held up in triple-A for too long — he was called up as an emergency call, per Ramirez — but it was clear from Chukars’ opening day that Olloque wouldn’t be in Idaho Falls for too long either.

He batted .474 in 19 at-bats, knocking in nine RBIs, two home runs, a triple and two doubles. One of his two home runs was a grand slam.

Chukars’ J.C. Cloney pitches in the third inning as the Chukars take on the Ogden Raptors during opening day at Melaleuca Field on Friday, June 15, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@posteegister.com

“I’ve learned to humble myself,” Olloque said. “I know this game isn’t going to last forever, and I know there’s more to (life) than baseball. Just having a closer relationship with God lets me stuff in different perspective. Just try to be not too high, not too low, just even keel.”

“Manny is a good hitter,” said Ramirez after the Chukars’ opening day win. “Manny has always been a good hitter and he’s going to be a good help for the team.”

Even with Olloque gone, though, the Chukars still have a plethora of solid contact hitters. They’re batting .332 through eight games — the highest in the Pioneer League — as of June 23.

Kansas City Royals’ third-round pick Kyle Isbel has been sharp his first few games with the rookie-A affiliate. He’s batting .500. Offerman Collado, Julio Gonzalez, Nick Hutchins and Andres Martin should be steady hands at the plate this summer.

Collado and Gonzalez, in their second stints in Idaho Falls, are batting .368 and .364, respectively. Hutchins has batted .321 in a team-high 28 at-bats. He is tied for first in doubles (3) alongside Isbel and first baseman Reed Rohlman.

While only suiting up for three games thus far, Martin’s small sample size is promising. He’s gone 5 for 11 and knocked in two RBIs. He’s truck out once and walked once.

In terms of pitching, the Chukars’ have vastly improved from a year ago. A year ago, the Chukars were one of the worst — if not, the worst — pitching club in the Pioneer League. Now, they’re among the top.

Of course, minor league teams change rapidly and it’s early in the season, but the Chukars currently rank one of the better rotations and bullpens in the league.

The team’s ERA is 4.43 (second-best in the Pioneer) with their WHIP at 1.35 (tied for second best).

JC Cloney (2-0) is molding into a reliable ace, giving up just 10 hits and three earned runs in 13 innings pitched. He’s struck out 16 and has a WHIP of 0.77. Domingo Pena (1-0) looked sharp in his one appearance thus far. He holds a 1.80 ERA with a 0.80 WHIP.

Again, it’s early. But the Chukars have solid pieces to be excited about if you follow the Royals’ farming system.

“I think it will be a strong group of pitchers and I think that they’re going to be learning just like everybody else will be learning,” Chukars’ pitching coach Jeff Suppan said prior to the season starting.

Standings

Pioneer League North

Helena Brewers (MIL) 4-2

Missoula Osprey (ARI) 3-2

Great Falls Voyagers (CWS) 3-4

Billings Mustangs (CIN) 2-4

Pioneer League South

Idaho Falls Chukars (KC) 6-2

Grand Junction Rockies (COL) 4-4

Ogden Raptors (LAD) 3-5

Orem Owlz (LAA) 3-5

Increasing stock

Kyle Isbel. Since joining the Chukars on June 18, Isbel has proved to be a reliable at-bat for Idaho Falls. In the past five games, the third-round pick has batted 10 for 20 (.500) with seven RBIs, three doubles and seven runs. He’s struck oout twice.

Decreasing stock

Jose Caraballo. Since June 15, Caraballo went 6 for 27 (.222) at the plate including a four-game stretch where the 21-year-old went 0 for 14. His slump could be ending shortly, though, as he’s registered back-t0-back two-hit games at Grand Junction.

Recent transactions (from June 18 to June 23)

– Right-handed pitcher Joe Ramirez assigned to Idaho Falls from DSL Royals2.

– Left-handed pitcher Marcelo Martinez assigned to Idaho Falls from DSL Royals2.

– Catcher Jesus Atencio assigned to Idaho Falls from Burlington Royals.

– Catcher Nathan Easton assigned to Idaho Falls.

– Right-handed pitcher Dillon Drabble assigned to Idaho Falls from Burlington Royals.

– Shortstop Kyle Krasser assigned to Idaho Falls.

– Right-handed pitcher Jon Heasley assigned to Idaho Fals.

– Right-handed pitcher Tyler Gray assigned to Idaho Falls

– Right-handed pitcher Jonathan Bowlan assistned to Idaho Falls Chukars.

– Centerfielder Isaiah Smith assigned to Idaho Falls from AZL Royals.

Upcoming

The Chukars play at Orem until Monday before hosting Grand Junction for a four-game homestand starting Tuesday. First pitch is 7:15 p.m. at Melaleuca Field.

Chukars down Raptors in season-opening pitching duel

Chukars’ Offerman Collado fileds a grounder to throw out Raptors’ Jair Camargo as the Chukars take on the Ogden Raptors during opening day at Melaleuca Field on Friday, June 15, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@posteegister.com

By LUKE O’ROARK | @LukeORoark
Loroark@postregister.com

Gloomy weather hung over Melaleuca Field to start the Idaho Falls Chukars’ season opener. The night ended with fireworks and a win, though.

The Chukars defeated the Raptors 4-2 Friday to start the season 1-0 for the third consecutive season.

JC Cloney got the win on the mound, striking out 11 and surrendering two earned runs on four hits in seven innings pitched. After a shaky, 2-run first inning, Cloney quickly settled his command, working Friday’s strike zone with breaking balls before Robert Garcia closed the game out with a save.

At one point, Cloney retired 12-straight during the middle innings.

“That was good to see a well-pitched game in this league,” Chukars Omar Ramirez said. “That doesn’t happen very often. It’s a nice to see a game well pitched.”

Down 2-0 to start their freshly new campaign, the Chukars responded with two runs in the bottom of the third. Cleanup hitter Nick Hutchins hit in the first run of the 2018 Chukars’ season, popping an RBI single into the right field gaps to score Freddy Fermin.

After Reed Rohlman scored Manny Olloque later in the bottom of the third, Friday’s game quickly became a classic pitchers’ duel.

That was, of course, until Olloque hit in Fermin with a line drive to left field in the seventh.

Chukars’ Jose Caraballo and Jose Marquez round the bases as the Chukars take on the Ogden Raptors during opening day at Melaleuca Field on Friday, June 15, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@posteegister.com

“I was just looking for a pitch to drive to score the run and I’m glad we won,” Olloque said. “That’s all that matters.”

Up 3-2, Jose Marquez added an insurance in the bottom of the eighth, eventually setting up Garcia to close the door on the 2017 Pioneer League champions.

He did — as the Chukars’ season began with patriotic fireworks and the cliched Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believing”.

“Everybody pitched good, hit good, good defense,” Olloque said. “Overall, good win.”

Player (s) of the Game

JC Cloney and Manny Olloque.

Cloney’s command was impressive Friday night. After surrendering two runs in the top of the first inning, Cloney settled in and attacked the zone. He struck 11 out in seven innings.

Olloque finished 2 for 4 at the plate, driving home a run in the bottom of the seventh. He had one run and one RBI.

Quotable

“I go day-by-day. Like I said, we played a good game, we played good defense, very good defense we played. I always say if we have two of these three things: pitching, defense and timely hitting, situational hitting. If you have two of those, you’re in good shape every time you take the field. … We had all three of them. It won’t happen every night, but it’s nice to see the first game of the season.” — Chukars manager Omar Ramirez

Notes

– The Chukars have won three-straight season openers. They’re last season-opening loss was June 18, 2015 (16-10 to Grand Junction).

– Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler performed a solo home run derby before Friday’s game. Butler, a 2012 Silver Slugger with the Kansas City Royals, played for the Chukars in 2004.

– Attendance was announced at 3,132, per the Chukars’ organization.

Upnext

The Chukars host the Ogden Raptors Saturday at Melaleuca Field for game two of a four-game home stand. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m.

Ramirez returns to Idaho Falls for second stint

Chukars’ Manager Omar Ramirez talks to players during the first practice together of the year at Melaleuca Field on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. This is Ramirez’s second stint with the Royals. He was manager in 2013 when the Chukars won the Pioneer League Championship going 41-35. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

By LUKE O’ROARK | @LukeORoark
Loroark@postregister.com

Idaho Falls Chukars’ field manager Omar Ramirez is back in the 208.

But now in his second stint with the burgundy and silver, the 47-year-old has evolved. Grown and matured — as a manager.

“More experienced. More experience as a manager,” Ramirez said of his transition back to Idaho Falls during the Wednesday’s media day at Melaleuca Field. “In 2012, it was my first time being a manager … Just knowing the game more. About movement and pitching change and all that. Players teach you so much, about everything.”

Ramirez returns to the Chukars after spending time with the Royals’ other rookie and low-A affiliates during the previous three summers. After a quick hiatus to manage in Burlington and Lexington, respectively, Ramirez returns with not only more knowledge, but an outgoing personality that fits with Chukars baseball.

“One of the great attributes of a guy like Omar, especially at the lower levels in the minor leagues where the Latin players haven’t acclimated, or haven’t learned English yet, perhaps, Omar has the ability to speak and communicate equally well with the American and English and Spanish speaking players,” Chukars general manager Kevin Greene said. “And I think that’s a great attribute for anyone to ever have, especially to be successful at this level.”

Being a player, or manager, in the ever-so-fluid minor league system can be difficult. It’s no secret.

There can be some long hours, pitching coach Jeff Suppan and hitting coach Damon Hollins said. You spend time away from family, friends. You’re in Idaho one week and then next thing you know: poof, you’re in Kentucky.

By late August, the two-month grind of the minor leagues can grind even the most hardened.

Chukars’ Manager Omar Ramirez talks to players about fielding during the first practice together of the year at Melaleuca Field on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. This is Ramirez’s second stint with the Royals. He was manager in 2013 when the Chukars won the Pioneer League Championship going 41-35. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

“You’re always coaching, and it’s like as a player, once the games over, you shower and then you go home. a coach has more work to do,” Suppan said. “As a player, you come to the ball park and your work starts, but as a coach, you’re doing work well before the players are there. So, the best job in baseball is player, you know. Coaching has a lot of enjoyable things, but it’s a lot of work.”

And if someone knows this, it’s Ramirez — who got to the AAA level and played in the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros farming system at one point in his career. He’s no stranger to not settling in one place for too long: he’s bounced around from Cleveland to Mexico to independent leagues, he said.

But within that minor league grind, there’s a chance to make an impact on a pro-baller’s career. That’s what drew Ramirez back to Idaho Falls, and coaching, after retiring due to lingering injuries, spending time in Mexico and building a family.

He said he loves teaching.

“It’s my life. It’s what I enjoy doing,” Ramirez said. “I love it. They always ask me, ‘Do you want to become a big league manager?’ And if the opportunity is there, that’s fine, but I like the minor leagues. The players listen to you. In the big leagues, they don’t listen to you. I like this. I can tell, ‘Hey, you’re doing this wrong, you’re doing this wrong.’ In the big leagues, it’s different.

“I enjoy my job,” Ramirez added.

The Chukars play the Idaho Falls Bandits, an American Legion double-A team today at Melaleuca Field. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m. Idaho Falls official season begins Friday at Melaleuca Field against Ogden.

Same time as always: 7:15 p.m.

Chukars’ Manager Omar Ramirez works with players during the first practice together of the year at Melaleuca Field on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. This is Ramirez’s second stint with the Royals. He was manager in 2013 when the Chukars won the Pioneer League Championship going 41-35. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Chukars announce 2018 coaching staff

By Luke O’Roark | Post Register | @LukeORoark
A familiar face will be back with the Idaho Falls Chukars this summer.

The Chukars, an advanced rookie-level affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, announced Omar Ramirez will manage the team in 2018, returning to Idaho Falls after spending three season with Burlington and Lexington.

Idaho Falls Chukars pitching coach Jeff Suppan, right, watches right-hander Reid Redman on June 14 at the team’s first workout at Melaleuca Field.(Monte LaOrange / mlaorange@postregister.com)

Ramirez takes over for now former Chukars manager Justin Gemoll, who will join Grand Canyon Baseball as a volunteer assistant coach for the Lopes’ 2018 season.

Ramirez previously managed the Chukars from 2012 to 2014 and was a part of the Chukars’ 2013 Pioneer League championship team.

“We welcome back Omar Ramirez, the manager who brought us our last championship in 2013,” Chukars’ President and general manager Kevin Greene said in a press release. “He along with a great supporting coaching staff of Jeff and Damon should make for a fun season of baseball in Idaho Falls.”

Joining Ramirez in 2018 will be pitching coach Jeff Suppan and hitting coach Damon Hollins, both who were a part of the Cuhkars’ 2017 staff. Suppan returns for his fourth year in Idaho Falls and brings 17 years of Major league experience.

For Hollins, he returns for his eighth season within the Kansas City Royals organization, the press release states. Hollins will also serve as an assistant outfield, base running and bunting coordinator.

Justin Kemp will also return to the Chukars as the team’s head athletic trainer in 2018. It will be his third season with the Chukars.

Idaho Falls’ opening day is set for June 15. The Chukars will host the Ogden Raptors at Melaleuca Field, as first pitch is slated for 7:15 p.m.

Chukars announce their 2017 coaching staff

Gemoll
Gemoll

A new hitting coach will sit in the Idaho Falls Chukars dugout this summer.

Damon Hollins will replace Andre David as the Chukars’ hitting instructor for the 2017 season, the Chukars announced Friday. Manager Justin Gemoll and pitching coach Jeff Suppan will return to Idaho Falls for their third straight seasons, and Justin Kemp will serve as the Chukars’ head athletic trainer for the second straight year.

This is not Hollins’ first stint as the Chukars’ hitting coach. He held the same position in 2013 and 2014. Hollins spent the previous two seasons as the hitting coach for the Single-A Lexington Legends. 2017 will be Hollins’ eighth year in the Kansas City Royals’ organization.

David was named the hitting coach for the Burlington Royals, Kansas City’s other Rookie-level affiliate, according to the (Burlington, N.C.) Times-News. Former Chukars manager Omar Ramirez will become Burlington’s manager this upcoming season, as well. Ramirez, who managed the Legends the last two years, spent three seasons in Idaho Falls. He and Hollins won a Pioneer League title in 2013.

The Chukars did not name a bench coach on Friday. Ramon Castro has occupied that role the previous two seasons.

Q&A: Chukars’ rookie manager Justin Gemoll

Manager Justin Gemoll talks about his hopes for the team during Chukars Media Day on Wednesday at Melaleuca Field.  (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)
Manager Justin Gemoll talks about his hopes for the team during Chukars Media Day on Wednesday at Melaleuca Field. (Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com)

BY VICTOR FLORES
vflores@postregister.com

The Idaho Falls Chukars’ new manager is already enjoying his time in Idaho Falls.

Justin Gemoll grew up in San Jose, Calif., and often visited Lake Tahoe for fishing trips. After Gemoll, 37, was hired by the Chukars in November to replace Omar Ramirez, he researched Idaho Falls and discovered how popular fly fishing is in the area.

It was an excellent marriage of city and the new coach, who lives in Surprise, Ariz., with his wife Jennifer and children Samantha, Gavin and Jackson.

Today, Gemoll will manage his first regular season game for the Chukars against the Grand Junction Rockies at 7:15 p.m. On Wednesday afternoon, Gemoll sat down with the Post Register to discuss the city of Idaho Falls, his previous coaching experience and his goals for his first managerial job.

NOTE: This Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.

What do you like about Idaho Falls, other than fishing?

“So far, all of the people we’ve met have been very nice and polite. You guys have welcomed us with open arms, and that’s all we can ask for as staff and players. It looks like a great city. From what it sounds like, everyone’s Chukars fans here, so we’re looking forward to some great crowds and loud crowds at home.”

Where did you coach in six years prior to bench coach job with Wilmington last year?

“In the six years previous to that, I was a hitting coach. I started off a year at Arizona as a hitting coach, then three years in Wilmington as a hitting coach, which I was blessed to do. I got to have (Eric) Hosmer, (Mike) Moustakas, (Jarrod) Dyson. A lot of those guys that we have in the big leagues now came through there. Salvador Perez. It was real exciting to watch those guys. Then, I went with Lexington for a year and Burlington, North Carolina, for a year before being a bench coach.”

Do you still keep in touch with those major league players?

“Yeah. It’s funny, we went to the World Series last year, my wife and I. They let us in the stadium early before the general admission so we could watch the guys and say Hi. We were just hanging back watching them and Hosmer and Mous were down there at first base screaming, ‘Hey, G.’ It was pretty cool. My wife was crying. She’s real sentimental.”

What are your goals for this season?

“At the rookie ball level, it’s to get all of these guys acquainted with the daily grind of professional baseball, learning how to prepare themselves to go out and compete and win every single night. That being said, some of these kids are gone from their families for their first extended period, so there are going to be some issues. It’s going to be a learning process.”

What do you do to get a group of players like this to become tight-knit?

“Talk about things other than baseball all of the time. We’ll talk about what they like to do in their free time, we’ll joke around with each other, the music’s playing in (the clubhouse). We’ll change it so one day we’ll listen to Latin American music, the next day is country and the next day is stuff we like, the throwback stuff that shouldn’t be throwback. I was told Pearl Jam is ancient now.”

Ramirez promoted, will lead Chukars in 2012

The Kansas City Royals announced Monday that it has promoted Omar Ramirez, the club’s hitting coach in 2011, to the Chukars’ manager for 2012.

Prior to last season, his first year in Idaho Falls, Ramirez served as the hitting coach with the Royals’ former Low-A affiliate in Burlington, Iowa, and played eight seasons in the minors with the Cleveland Indians and the Houston Astros.

The Dominican native led Idaho Falls to a .287 batting average last season, the club’s highest since 2004, and 63 home runs, the most since 2005.

Joining his staff is pitching coach Jerry Nyman, who returns for his third straight season in Idaho Falls and 25th as a professional coach. Justin Gemoll will fill Martinez’s shoes as the hitting coach after holding the same position last summer with the Royals’ High-A affiliate in Wilmington, Del. Nathan Dine joins the staff as the strength and conditioning coach.

Buck Buchanan, who’s managed the Chukars the past two season, moved up in the Royals system to manage its Low-A affiliate in Kane County, Ill., which is one step higher than Idaho Falls.