RiverHawks sign former major-leaguer Simon
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January 27, 2010 - LOVES PARK, Ill. – The Rockford RiverHawks will have big-league experience in the clubhouse this season.

The team announced Wednesday that it has signed eight-year major-league veteran Randall Simon to a contract. Simon, a first baseman, has played in the majors for six different teams, including the Chicago Cubs. Simon represented the Netherlands in both World Baseball Classics, 2006 and 2009.

“The first reason I signed him was identity, because he gives instant identity to our franchise,” RiverHawks co-owner and director of baseball operations Dave Ciarrachi said. “There are a lot of people in Rockford, even though we’ve been here for eight years, who had no idea who we were. They know now that we are a Double-A, Triple-A level professional baseball team, with high-level ballplayers playing at a high-level stadium.

“No. 2, he will give us the ability to have recognition in the baseball community outside Rockford.

“Third, I have checked with a lot of my sources on this. … Everybody I have talked to has told me quality things about him, as a clubhouse guy and as a guy who likes to mentor young players. Along with (player-coach) Richie Austin and another guy we plan on obtaining, we are going to have three guys in our clubhouse with a combined 40 years in professional.”

2010 will be the 19th season of professional baseball for the 34-year-old Simon.

Simon signed out of Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles, with the Atlanta Braves in 1992. Cubs fans probably best remember Simon as a mid-August acquisition in 2003, when Chicago reached the National League Championship Series. Simon hit .282 with six home runs and 21 RBI in 33 games after Pittsburgh traded him to the Cubs for outfielder Ray Sadler. He hit .333 in the postseason.

"I am excited about making my return to the to Chicago area with
the RiverHawks,” Simon said. “I have fond memories of the Cubs fans and how much they embraced me and look forward to a great year in Rockford."

Simon has also played in the majors for Detroit, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. Simon hit .283 with 49 home runs and 237 RBIs in 537 big-league games.

Simon’s minor-league numbers are no less impressive – he’s a career .293 hitter with 180 homers and 858 RBI in 1,297 games. Last year, Simon hit .281 with 13 homers and 51 RBI in 75 games with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. He struck out just 20 times in 325 plate appearances. His average of a strikeout per each 16.25 plate appearances led the Northern League. Simon has been in his league’s top three in the category four times. In his career in the majors and minors combined, he has averaged a strikeout once every 10 at-bats.

“He’s an inside-out guy and reacts to pitching,” Ciarrachi said. “He’ll be great in the middle of the order.”

Ciarrachi said he anticipates batting left-handers in the leadoff, No. 2, cleanup and No. 5 spots in the order. Simon would likely be the fifth batter, providing protection for Austin.

“Randall’s a contact hitter, give us a little different look,” Ciarrachi said. “He hits lefties and righties. He can be a force in the middle of your batting order. He’s not a power guy, per se, but in our ballpark he can be a power hitter, particularly with our short right field.”

Simon has hit 19 home runs for the Tigers in 2002 and matched that career high twice in the minors. No RiverHawk has ever had a season of more than 16 homers, a record set six years ago by Austin at spacious Marinelli Field, which was 335 feet to right field. The two left-handed batters will have a right-field foul pole just 312 feet away at Road Ranger Stadium. The dimensions in right are short in general thanks to the beer garden.

Simon is the second player in RiverHawks history to come to the Stateline with prior major-league experience. Scott Sobkowiak, who pitched for the RiverHawks in 2003-04, appeared in one game with the Braves in 2001.

The RiverHawks are members of the Northern League, an eight-team independent professional baseball league that will play its 18th season in 2010. The RiverHawks’ ninth season begins at 7:05 p.m. May 20 against the Schaumburg Flyers at Road Ranger Stadium. Advertising and ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Games are broadcast live on ESPN 1380 (WTJK-AM) and the internet. Fans can also visit the RiverHawks online at www.rockfordriverhawks.com.


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