Timber Rattlers Notebook: Boucher Returns

APPLETON, Wisc. - So imagine you were just drafted by a major-league team; in this instance, the Seattle Mariners. Imagine the joy, the relief and the excitement that inevitably follows that announcement. Now imagine being told you won't be able to play the entire 2004 season, because complications with your Visa won't allow you to move from your native Canada to the United States to play ball.

Last year, that's what happened for Sebastien Boucher (pronounced "Boo-Shay").

"(It) was quite a struggle. Only being able to go into the instructional league was kinda hard on me," said the 23-year-old outfielder, drafted by Seattle in the seventh round out of Bethune-Cookman. "Then I got an injury at the beginning of this year, so it kinda made me … ya know, I almost let myself get down, but now I'm in Wisconsin and I'm glad to be here."

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are sure glad to have him here as well. Often drawing comparisons to Kenny Lofton, Boucher is an immediate threat at the plate and on the base paths; well indicated by his .352 average and 37 steals his senior season in college.

But with center field his natural position, and Wisconsin regular Josh Womack off to such a hot start, Boucher has only seen spot starts at the corner outfield spots and at DH since his promotion two weeks ago. Does he have some proving to do?

"I definitely feel I have something to prove," he said. "I will always feel I have something to prove until something big happens. Until then, it will always be in the back of my mind that I lost a year and I still have to make up for it."

At Bethune-Cookman, Boucher shared the field with current Timber Rattler pitcher Mumba Rivera. The Rattlers' starting pitcher sees a definite plus side to the speedy outfielder, and knows that he can bring a lot of ability to the table.

"He brings speed, he brings defense and he brings a lot of energy," said Rivera. "He's very competitive; he knows the game inside-out. He does anything to help the team win."

As a college teammate, it seems natural that Rivera would help Boucher make the transition from collegiate to pro ball, helping him make-up for lost time.

"Since I've been up here, (Rivera) has helped me with the way the league and its' pitchers go," Boucher said. "The way they throw sequence and stuff like that. Show me that ‘hey, these guys like to do these certain things,' and kind of helping me in that sense."

The beginning to his professional career may not have been storybook, but it was definitely a learning process for Sebastien Boucher. Although his stay in Wisconsin has been short, he has already showed he has the physical tools necessary to become an effective everyday player, and he will only get better with the experience a full season brings.

Hopefully, for Boucher, the reward will be worth the wait.

May Woes: The Rattlers have had a disappointing month, going 4-9 thus far. The club was 15-7 in April.

Streaking?Oswaldo Navarro's double in the first inning Thursday extended his season-long and current team-high hitting streak to nine games. He didn't play on Friday.

A Little Too Generous: Although he only walked two batters on Thursday night, Casey Abrams still leads the Midwest league in free passes. Through Thursday's game, he has walked 26 batters.

Up Next: The Rattlers finished up their 4-game set with West Michigan on Friday, and head off to Lansing for a 4-game series. Mumba Rivera improved to 5-0 on the season with another win on Friday, and Mark Lowe (2-3) is scheduled to throw in the opener against the Lugnuts.

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