Man, I’ve been trying to come down from an exciting win by my Cleveland Indians tonight, and I excited myself out. I’ve just hit a wall. But I’ve wanted to blog on the Wingnuts for a few days now, and with their spring training beginning on Saturday morning, I had to get this blog going for the spring and summer.
I was out at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium the other day, and they were putting the finishing touches on the new artificial playing surface. Early returns say it’s outstanding — very aesthetically appealing and different from the surface used by WSU. That’s notable because the Shockers and Wingnuts used the same company to install their synthetic field. The first time I saw the new surface was from the stands, and I thought the basepaths were dirt. It looks remarkably similar to the dirt that was on the old field. But it’s turf. Fooled me. The logos behind home plate, near each dugout and in center field look sharp, too. I give it an A. But my Tribe just won on a walkoff grand slam, so I’m in a generous mood. Still, the field looks awesome and is definitely worth checking out.
The next thing I have to mention is the job manager Kevin Hooper and Josh Robertson have done in putting together this roster, which will be cut from 28 to 22 after spring training. The Wingnuts can actually start the season with 23, but I think Hooper likes to set the roster at 22 so he doesn’t have to cut a player after a couple weeks. I don’t know if that’s policy for him or just the way he did it last year and the year before.
Anyway, the Wingnuts, on paper, have their best roster in their four years of existence. I can say that with confidence even though I haven’t seen or heard of some of the players. But I’ve heard of most, either because they’ve had success in this league before, in affiliated ball around here (like Juan Richardson, who played against the Wranglers when he was in the Cardinals system), or they’ve played in the big leagues. The Wingnuts actually have two ex-big leaguers in Edwin Bellorin and Brent Clevlen, who play important up-the-middle positions.
The lineup will be stacked. The pitching is more of a question mark to me, but only because that’s the area of the team that features players I’m not as familiar with. I do know that the Nos. 1 and 2 in the rotation, Nick Singleton and Dan Grybash, are a fearsome duo if both stay healthy. There will be competition for the last few sports in the rotation and for spots in the bullpen. The Wingnuts have guys they can pencil into late-inning roles, but with so many capable arms in camp, someone could surprise and take one of those spots. We’ll see.
I’m going to try to get out to camp on Sunday if I can, and if so I’ll blog again that night and let everyone know what I’ve seen. Keep coming back throughout the season. I’m going to do my best to make this blog as entertaining as it was in the first half of last season. I slacked off a bit after that, but my efforts will be toward not allowing that to happen again. Talk soon!