The Moose Jaw Miller Express were expecting to have Tanner Spencer leading their team for the 2019 Western Canadian Baseball League season. Spencer was announced as long-time coach Michael Hunt's replacement last October after serving as the team's pitching coach in 2018, however, an unfortunate situation has forced the Millers into another direction.
The Craik product accepted a full-time coaching position at Minot State earlier this year and as part of the immigration process, he wouldn't be able to leave the United States during the summer while the process sorts itself out.
"We were very much looking forward to having Tanner head the team up, Tanner is very knowledgeable, very good at what he does, the guys like him, it was going to be a great move for both us and Tanner, Tanner getting that experience under his belt at such a young age," said Millers general manager Cory Olafson.
"Tanner is in this for his career and this move is a stepping stone for him in his career, so it would be silly for us to hold anything against Tanner."
The news of Spencer's situation forced the Millers to restart their search for a new head coach and they went to a familiar well to help them find their man, which ended up being Rich Sorensen, a junior college head coach in California.
"We've had some very good relationship with some junior colleges in California, one being Fresno City College -- they've sent us numerous pitchers over the years -- and a coach there is Eric Solberg, so I reached out to him with our situation and he played Fresno State and his roommate was Rich Sorensen," said Olafson. "Eric phoned Rich, told him what it was and found out he was interested, we were put in contact and the rest is history. Rich is excited to come up and be a part of the organization."
Sorensen is the head coach at Porterville College. The Pirates have a 1-35 record so far during the 2019 season with three more regular season games to go this week.
Olafson said that Sorensen brings a lot of experience with him to Moose Jaw.
"Rich is 55 years old, he's coaching at junior college, so he's still down in the trenches down there in collegiate baseball which is something that we haven't had here since Michael's first two years," said Olafson, who added that Spencer had done most of the recruiting for the team before the new year.
The Millers will open their season on May 29 against the Melville Millionaires at Ross Wells Park.