Former Rainier Alex Blandino picks up the knuckler

Utilityman looks to revive baseball career on the mound in 2024.
Cincinnati Reds v Cleveland Indians
Cincinnati Reds v Cleveland Indians / Ron Schwane/GettyImages

I've loved minor league baseball because it's a great cross-section of youth and veterans. You could look up and down a dugout and see a 21-year-old prospect scratching the surface of their talent and a 31-year-old veteran grinding to get one last shot in the show. Alex Blandino falls into the latter category.

Blandino probably struck a chord for those who routinely visited Cheney Stadium to take in a Tacoma Rainier game. He was a utility infielder for the Rainiers in 2022, bouncing between second and third base and shortstop. The glove definitely outshined the bat that season as the then 29-year-old infielder slashed .203/.399/.740 in 47 games. That isn't to say he didn't have a few big hits for the Rainiers, specifically this game-winning blast against Round Rock.

After years of toiling in the minors and failing to make his mark as a position player, the 31-year-old Blandino is reinventing himself on the mound. Fernando Rayo of 8 Deportivo was the first to report Blandino's quest to continue his career using a time-honored pitch, the knuckleball. This isn't Blandino's first foray on the mound, as he threw in several blowout losses for the Cincinnati Reds in 2023. One of those appearances even caught the eye of the Pitching Ninja, Rob Friedman.

Six straight years of sub .250 averages, some mop-up duty, and a few nasty knucklers have Blandino on the cusp of changing the narrative. He'll probably continue to hone the pitch in the Minor Leagues this season, giving fans another storyline to watch as they take in some of the best baseball.