CEDAR RAPIDS — He got the game ball, which is a keepsake, for sure.
“That’s going right up there on the mantle next to my first big league hit,” Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman said, after his club’s 10-4 smashing of Peoria at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
This was Dinkelman’s first win as a professional manager. The 35-year-old was the Kernels hitting coach the previous three seasons before getting a promotion to lead the club.
He’s been a Minnesota Twins lifer, drafted by them as an infielder in the eighth round out of McKendree University in Illinois in 2006 and playing eight seasons in their system, including 23 games in the bigs in 2011.
Not many guys can say they have a career major league batting average over .300, though Dinkelman can, as he finished at .301. He began coaching with the Twins in 2015 and actually makes his offseason home in town with his wife and their young daughter.
Pretty cool deal.
“It does feel good,” he said. “As a manager, you never know how many wins you are going to get. To get that first one out of the way feels good.”
He said it definitely is different being in charge than it is being a coach, as you’d expect.
“This side you are trying to figure out a little bit more now,” he said. “All this stuff (computer), lineups, daily schedules and all that good stuff. I got the lineup card printed out, so I’ve figured out how to do that. I can do a lineup card every day.”
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The Kernels (1-1) rebounded in a game that was virtually identical to Thursday night’s season opener, only with them doing significant offensive damage instead of Peoria. Cedar Rapids ran to an 8-1 lead after five innings, finishing with 13 hits and drawing nine walks.
Every guy in the lineup sans Gilberto Celestino had at least one hit, and he walked once and scored a run. Trey Cabbage and Ben Rodriguez each went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, with Cabbage launching a two-run home run to left-center that traveled 411 feet with an exit velocity of 106 miles per hour.
Starting pitcher Jordan Balazovic got the win, going five innings and striking out nine. That included the final six batters he faced.
The Kernels play a weekend series at Wisconsin, returning home Monday night to host Kane County.
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