BY ANGELINA MARTIN
209 staff reporter
The return of Spring means the return of many things: buzzing bees, sunny skies and most importantly, the sweet crack of the baseball bat. That’s right – baseball is back, and the Modesto Nuts are ready to step into the batter’s box.
After going 67-73 last year, the Nuts are looking to redeem themselves for the 2016 season.
An affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, the Nuts are a Class A Advanced team that competes in the North Division of the California League. Former talents such as Troy Tulowitzki, and more recently Trevor Story, have made a splash in the Major Leagues, but originally called John Thurman Field home.
Located in the heart of Modesto at 601 Neece Drive, John Thurman Field offers baseball fans in the 209 a chance to enjoy their favorite game in a safe, friendly and fun setting.
With seating that includes picnic areas, party decks and suites, fans can always be sure to have a unique experience every time they visit the ballpark. The stadium boasts a carnival-like atmosphere, with a bounce house, inflatable slide, playground and prize wheel. John Thurman Field also offers birthday packages – for $175, you and nine friends can enjoy America’s pastime while eating cake and, of course, hot dogs. For those who think baseball needs a bit more “bang,” fireworks also follow games every Friday and Saturday night.
Promotions are frequent at John Thurman Field, with most nights providing some kind deal or event for the fans. “Kids Run the Bases” allows children ages 4 through 13 to run the bases like a pro after the game. “Make Mondays Matter” will be held during every Monday that there is a home game, and fans are encouraged to bring two items of gently-used clothing, two books or two canned food items to the stadium and receive one free grandstand ticket to that night’s game.
Throughout the season, there will be special event nights. Upcoming events include 80s night on April 16, Super Heroes Night on April 29, Mardi Gras Night on April 30 and Breast Cancer Awareness Night on May 28.
This year, five of the Rockies top 30 prospects are on the Nuts roster, with 20-year-old infielder Forrest Wall headlining the list as the first round pick in the 2014 MLB draft. Other notable players include infielder Collin Ferguson, who hit .346 for the Grand Junction Rockies last season, Shane Hoelscher, last season’s winner of the South Atlantic League batting title and the speedy Luis Jean, who had 27 stolen bases last season.
The Nuts starting rotation will be another bright spot on the roster. The 18th ranked Rockies prospect Jesus Tinoco went 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA in seven starts last season after being acquired by trade and will be the ace for the Nuts this season. Left-hander Sam Howard will be in the number two spot in the rotation, followed by right-hander Carlos Polanco, 20-year-old Ryan Castellani and new trade acquisition Yency Almonte.
The Nuts home opener will be on April 14 at 7:05 p.m. against the Stockton Ports. The game will be part of the promotion “Thirsty Thursdays,” which features drink and appetizer specials from 6 to 8 p.m.
Ticket prices for games range from $6 to $12. Season tickets can also be purchased for $370 up to $910, depending on your age and where you’d like to sit. Season ticket holders also receive a 15 percent markdown on all Nuts merchandise. Suites can be reserved for $450 a night and include refreshments and food. Group rates and packages are also available.
If you want to watch a competitive, fun game of baseball without travelling too far, head out to John Thurman Field this season. For more information on the Modesto Nuts schedule, promotions or to purchase tickets, visit www.modestonuts.com.