The Diamond Jaxx play host to Carolina this weekend, and it is the second year in a row that a major league star will headline Pringles Park on a rehab stint. Last season, Sammy Sosa joined the club in June for the team’s series with Birmingham.
“Anytime you bring a major league ballplayer to a minor league town, it automatically peaks the interest of lots of casual fans who may not ordinarily come to the park,” Diamond Jaxx broadcaster Ron Potesta said.
“What we hope is that those fans come out and like the atmosphere so much that we get them to become new fans of the team, so that when Nomar leaves and it’s just these minor league kids here, these same folks will still come to the park and begin to appreciate minor league baseball.”
Potesta is in his third season as voice of the Jaxx. He spent 2002 as play-by-play voice of the Class-A Vero Beach Dodgers in the Florida State League. Garciaparra will become the third major league star Potesta has had the opportunity of broadcasting in his career. The other two were Sosa, and Ivan Rodriguez (in '02).
He described the atmosphere of Sosa being in town last season as that of a "rock concert" mentality, noting the amount of people who packed Pringles Park.
“It was incredible,” Potesta said. “The energy and amount of people interested in seeing him perform, plus the amount of press that descended on little old Jackson, was amazing. I don’t think we’re going to have quite that same atmosphere this time around, but I’m looking forward to a really nice crowd.
“When it’s at its peak, Pringles Park is one of the loudest places in the Southern League. It was certainly a crazy time when Sammy came.”
Garciaparra comes to West Tenn after two games with Peoria. Prior to that, he spent time rehabbing in Mesa, Ariz., and the Arizona League Mesa Cubs for a pair of games. He is no stranger to the minor league circuit, and rehab stints, in his career. In 2004, Nomar saw action with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. Three seasons earlier in 2001, he was also in Pawtucket.
Garciaparra batted .157 in 14 games with the Cubs this season before a torn left groin muscle suffered against St. Louis on April 20 sent him to the 60-day DL.
Tickets to this weekend's series at "The Chip" are still available.