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Stockton Ports launch season Thursday
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The Stockton Ports will honor the 2008 championship team when they open the season on Thursday, April 5, at Banner Island Ballpark.

This was the California League squad that featured a future AL MVP and a slugging infielder-turned-all-star relief pitcher.

Josh Donaldson was a catcher back then, arriving midseason that year to the Class-A farm club of the Oakland Athletics as part of the Rich Harden trade.

Unfortunately, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays after flourishing into an All-Star third baseman for the A’s.

In 2015, Donaldson led the American League in runs scored and RBI while being named the most valuable player.

As for Oakland, starting pitcher Kendall Graveman and promising infielder Franklin Barreto are what’s left of that trade.

Sean Doolittle was the first baseman for the 2008 Ports.  The previous year, he was the 41st player taken in the MLB baseball draft as a first baseman / outfielder. Doolittle certainly didn’t disappoint, blasting 18 homers in that first year in Stockton.

However, he missed the entire 2010 season while rehabbing from two knee surgeries. In 2011, Doolittle subsequently went back to becoming a pitcher, rifling through the organization in a short span to eventually become the A’s set-up man for closer Grant Balfour. Oakland won the AL West that year.

No surprise to A’s fans, Doolittle was dealt to the Washington Nationals for prospects.

Trevor Cahill, a journeyman starting pitcher – he’s currently back in Oakland along with Brett Anderson (more on him) – began 2008 with the Ports and was promoted to AA after posting a 5-4 mark with 2.78 ERA.

Cahill played for Arizona, Atlanta, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, San Diego, and Kansas City prior to signing a one-year deal in his second go-around with the A’s.

Anderson, like Cahill, was a highly touted prospect in 2008. He was a combined 11-5 with a 3.69 ERA while splitting time between the Ports and Double-A Midland Rock Hounds of the Texas League.

He recently signed a minor league contract in his return to Oakland, having also pitched for Colorado, LA Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and Toronto.

Perhaps no one made a bigger splash for the Ports that year than Chris Carter, who blasted 39 home runs with 104 RBI while being named California League Rookie of the Year.

He also struck out a lot.

Carter became only the fourth player to strikeout 200 times after being traded from Oakland to Houston in 2013.

He had stops in Milwaukee and the New York Yankees before coming back to the A’s briefly last year. Carter was signed to a minor league contract but elected for free agency – he’s currently with the LA Angels minor league organization.

Carter, Anderson, Cahill, Anderson, Doolittle or Donaldson may not be around for the 10th anniversary of the Ports’ championship team, but Archie Gilbert will certainly be there.

The Hayward / Cal State East Bay product had a season to remember that year. He got off to a hot start, hitting .356 in April and fell just short of the California League hitting streak of 25 consecutive games the following month.

The fan favorite finished the year with a .364 on base percentage to go along with his 35 stolen bases, 49 RBI and a .278 batting average.

Gilbert, who was the 2008 playoff MVP, will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Open Night.

Game time against Lake Elsinore is 7:10 p.m. at the Stockton ballpark at 404 W. Fremont St. Individual game tickets range from $10 to $15.

The first 2,500 fans will receive refrigerator magnet schedules for the 2018 season.

Those in attendance, in addition, can enjoy the post-game fireworks.


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