Bridgewater, NJ – The Somerset Patriots are less than a week away from their season opener on Thursday, April 26th vs. the Long Island Ducks at 7:05pm at TD Bank Ballpark. The players are getting acclimated to the area and friendships are forming on and off the field as spring training continues.
The Patriots have many new faces on the squad this year. Currently there are 31 players on the roster and only five were part of the 2011 team (Yusuf Carter, Jeff Nettles, Dan DeGeorge, Kevin Reese, Derell McCall).
Despite the abundance of fresh faces, the goal and vision of the team has not changed. Each player dons the red, white and blue colors every day with one thought in mind: to win a sixth Atlantic League championship. Heading into the Patriots’ 15th season, they remain the most successful team in Atlantic League history winning five Atlantic League titles (2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009).
Thursday night at the annual team pre-season banquet, Patriots chairman Steve Kalafer addressed the team and reinforced the message that the Patriots continue to want to be winners both on the diamond and off the field in the community. The players, coaches, and front office staff all echoed Kalafer’s sentiments.
Could 2012 be another special year?
Thus far the practices have been very crisp. Manager Sparky Lyle thinks the team is ahead of schedule. The pitching staff seems to be the strongest unit. The Patriots have played two exhibition games against the Sugar Land Skeeters and Camden Riversharks and the Patriots pitching staff has only allowed two earned runs in 20 innings of work.
Pitching Coach and Director of Player Personnel Brett Jodie loves the upside of all the arms he has both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Roles are still being finalized as there are still five days left for some last minute tinkering.
“I really like how our bullpen is setting up. Some of the guys we brought in to battle for the starting spots looked good in their first spring games. I feel pretty comfortable with three or four of them right now. I believe all the arms we have, that any of them can pitch well for us this season,” said Jodie.
News and Notes:
Former New York Yankee Chase Wright was a starter with the Yankees but now has totally flipped the script and has become a lefty specialist in the bullpen. He’s now a side arm thrower, which is a big advantage because the hitters have to quickly adjust to a new arm slot.
The most pleasant surprise this year has been pitcher Travis Bowyer. Bowyer was the only one out of over 70 people who made the team at the open try out on April 14th. Bowyer last pitched for a Major League organization back in 2005 with the Minnesota Twins, but injuries stalled his career. He tore his rotator cuff and also tore his ACL last June playing pickup basketball with friends. He’s now 100% healthy and is throwing in the low 90′s. He could be a key asset to the club.
“I think Travis even surprised himself that he can just let go and pitch the way he knows how. You can tell he has something special. He has good life to his fastball and really made people look bad out there both games. It would be real nice to see a guy like him play here, do well, and make it back to the big leagues someday soon,” Jodie said.
Sunday afternoon the Patriots will travel to Camden to play the Riversharks in their second to last exhibition contest.
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