Pitching and defense could be hallmarks of remade ballclub
The Portland Beavers won't be known for their power this year, as they were in 2006. This year will be about pitching and defense, and maybe an occasional Jack Cust three-run home run.
'We'll have guys who give us good at-bats,' first-year manager Rick Renteria says. 'Hopefully we'll put the bat on the ball consistently and move the ball around.'
The Bevos open their 92nd Pacific Coast League baseball season at Fresno on Thursday. After two four-game series at Fresno and Sacramento, the home opener at PGE Park will be April 13 against Fresno.
The starting pitching rotation includes four pitchers who have taken the mound for Portland in the past, plus Ryan Ketchner. The starters: Jack Cassel, Ketchner, Jared Wells, Cesar Carrillo and Justin Germano.
The 22-year-old Carrillo is the San Diego Padres' top pitching prospect. He's coming off elbow surgery and 'actually looks better - he has life to his pitches and motion to his changeup and breaking ball,' Renteria says. 'He'll be limited at the beginning, to around 65 to 70 pitches.'
Germano pitched here in 2005 before being traded. Wells, another prospect, had a tough inauguration in Triple-A last season.
Two-year Bevo Tim Stauffer, still recovering from a bicep injury, will pitch from the bullpen initially, along with potential starter Andrew Brown. The rest of the bullpen: Scott Strickland, Aaron Rakers and Royce Ring (middle relief), Justin Hampson (setup) and and Leo Rosales (closer).
Rosales, 25, a Double-A closer last season, uses a 'power change' to get batters out, Renteria says.
The catchers are Luke Carlin, a returning Bevo, and Pete LaForest, who spent all last season on the disabled list.
Infielders will be interchangeable, Renteria says, but the early lineup will have Royce Huffman at first base, Craig Stansberry at second, Luis Cruz at shortstop and Oscar Robles at third, with veteran Manny Alexander and Brett Dowdy as backups.
Cruz, 23, the only Padre prospect in the infield, has a reputation as a good fielder. 'He needs to stay in control and take care of the routine plays,' Renteria says. Cruz also needs to be more disciplined at the plate.
Cust hit .293 with 30 homers and 77 RBIs with Portland last year and will be the power guy in the lineup, playing left field.
A veteran of Triple-A, Adam Shabala, will play center and bat leadoff. Vince Sinisi will man right field, moving up from Double-A Mobile (Ala.). Dowdy and Josh Howard also will get outfield action.
A projected Bevo infielder, Brian Myrow, starts the season on the disabled list (calf). Pitchers Steve Watkins (abdomen) and Adrian Burnside (hamstring) also could join Portland at some point when healthy.
The Padres' opening-day roster includes starting left fielder Terrmel Sledge, reserve outfielder Paul McAnulty and reliever Mike Thompson, all 2006 Bevos.