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Former Padre recalls throwing out first pitch at Cashman Field

A countless number of prospects have rolled through Cashman Field since its opening in 1983.

But only one can make the claim that he threw the first pitch at the old park.

That would be Andy Hawkins, who was back in town this weekend as the pitching coach for the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

“Like a lot of guys who had been in the big leagues, I was one of the guys (who was) a little bit disappointed to be here because that meant I didn’t make the team in spring training,” Hawkins said. “Having said that, it was very exciting to open up a new stadium here, a big crowd that day. I think the weather was beautiful at the time.”

Hawkins pitched against Rick Adair, who he worked with later in his career.

And while he doesn’t remember much about his start — it was 35 years and “several Miller Lites ago” — the Stars did win that game 11-8.

Hawkins wound up making 14 starts for the Stars that year.

He also started an exhibition game before that season began against the Minnesota Twins, where he got his first look at Kirby Puckett.

“I think I’m just going to knock the bat out of his hands,” Hawkins said. “I threw him my best fastball and he hits this rocket right back up the middle. It almost hit me in the head and he’s taking off and I look around, the ball hit about ¾ of the way up the batter’s eye. He’s smoking around first and second, stand up triple. I’m thinking ‘Okay, that’s Kirby Puckett, huh?’ He turned out to be a good ballplayer.”

Hawkins had a lengthy major league career himself, going 84-91 with a 4.22 ERA over 10 seasons, most of which came for the San Diego Padres.

Decision time

Brandon Nimmo’s rehab assignment will hit 20 days this week, meaning the Mets must decide to activate him or option him to Triple-A.

He began his rehab assignment on April 26 with the St. Lucie Mets before coming to Las Vegas on May 2.

Nimmo is hitting just .098 in Las Vegas and the likely move is to option him.

Manager Pedro Lopez said Friday that Nimmo is still playing catch up after suffering a hamstring injury in March in the World Baseball Classic and a hand injury in early April.

“He had a really good spring and then all of a sudden got hurt in the WBC and that kind of set him back. I’m not worried about Brandon,” Lopez said. “I think we have seen some good swings. We have seen at times it’s not so much his swings. The timing is a little off.”

Upcoming at the park

The Iowa Cubs will come to town this week to take on the 51s, but they will be without Ian Happ and Jeimer Candelario, two of the Cubs two top prospects who both started the season in Iowa and are now in the majors.

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

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