116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS – Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman does a Zoom interview with interested reporters after every home game at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Face-to-face stuff is forbidden right now in minor league baseball, one of several understandable COVID-19 safety protocols.
Before each of Dinkelman’s sessions, host and Kernels play-by-play man Chris Kleinhans-Schulz, as a courtesy, asks the manager if he wants to make an opening statement or go straight to questions. Every single time, Dinkelman has said he wanted to go straight to questions.
“Somebody’s got to give me a heads up when I have 99 wins,” was his statement after his team beat South Bend, 9-2, with a chuckle.
The Kernels skipper notched his 100th professional win when his team brushed past South Bend, 9-2, before 2,067 fans. Quite a Father’s Day present for the well-liked Dinkelman, whose wife and daughter were in the house.
“I honestly didn’t know going into today that it was possible,” he said. “One hundred wins to start off a managerial career is nice. I’ve been fortunate to have good players, good coaches to work with to get to that point. It’s been fun so far, and hopefully there are a lot more to go.”
This is Dinkelman’s second year as a manager, as he led the Kernels to a 78-62 record and Midwest League playoff berth in 2019. He was a hitting coach here and in Rookie ball prior to getting a chance to manage.
The 37-year-old, who makes his offseason home here, played in the Minnesota Twins system from 2006 to 2013, getting in 23 big-league games in 2011. He said he knew he wanted to give the coaching side of pro ball a shot when his playing career ended.
“You know, I got to play for Ron Gardenhire when I was up there (in the big leagues), and I’m still friends with him today.” Dinkelman said. “Obviously his son, Toby, is one of my good friends, and I see him often. Just to get to talk with (Ron) about baseball and how he used to manage teams, he’s somebody I’ve learned from. I’ve learned from Toby also. Those guys both have been influential in my career.”
Toby Gardenhire is manager of the Twins’ Triple-A team in Saint Paul. Of course, developing players is priority one (and two and three) for minor-league managers, but when you can do that and win games to boot, you’re doing a really good job.
“Once I got toward the end of my playing career, I thought baseball’s always kind of been in my blood, I’ve really enjoyed the pro game, and that I’d like to get into the coaching (end) of it,” Dinkelman said. “Once I got into it for a couple of years, I thought managing might be something (possible) for me. I enjoyed the guys before me, watching them work with the team. So, yeah, I think this is always something I’ve wanted to do.”
The Kernels (22-20) ended up winning the final five games of this six-game series, getting two-run home runs from Trey Cabbage and Seth Gray here. Kernels relief pitchers Tyler Watson, Derek Molina and Owen Griffith combined for six innings of work without giving up an earned run.
Watson (2-0) picked up the victory. Leadoff hitter Spencer Steer reached all five times he was at bat, walking twice and recording three singles, scoring three times and driving in a pair.
Cedar Rapids has Monday off, then begins a six-game series against the Lansing Lugnuts.
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