The boys are back in town. That’s right, the Salem Red Sox are locked and loaded for what will be the earliest beginning to a season in Carolina League history on April 3. And although there are plenty of new faces to go around the clubhouse, the knack for another championship remains consistent from the top of the organization all the way to the bottom.
“There’s a lot of momentum after last season and expectations as well so we’re just looking forward to getting it started and rolling from there,” explained a newcomer, pitcher Kevin Martin.
Now, just because there may be a slate of new players on the squad, that doesn’t mean the upbeat atmosphere from last season’s championship run has deceased. Rather, it has quite possibly been amped up!
From brand new fan promotions to ole ballpark traditions, Salem is taking pride in last season’s success while bargaining for a bit more.
“I just think if we come out everyday and work we’ll get good chemistry like we had last year and have fun with it. This game is so difficult, you hit so many peaks and valleys and you’re going hot and the next day you’re not,” said returning first basemen and designated hitter, David Chester. “If you’re having fun doing it, that’s what makes the difference.”
But, with just two days before the first pitch of the season in Myrtle Beach, the Salem Red Sox players were able to escape the clubhouse, relax and enjoy a free meal from Mac and Bob’s while fielding questions from the media in their very own Media Day.
And though I was sure to ask players about the success of last season, I saw no better opportunity to tap into the “first impression” emotions that were expressed about the city of Salem from some of the newer faces I saw.
“Going up and down the roads brings me back to the hill country back in Texas where I am from in Austin,” said pitcher Kevin Martin. “Looking at the city there is a lot of history here and a lot of historic landmarks that I’m looking to check out.”
Even though his hometown is just a hop, skip and a jump away in Richmond, the University of Virginia product, Reed Gragnani said, “I got a chance to see the ball park, it looks like a great venue and the facilities are great as well and I’m excited to get things going.”
Well uh, what about the repeat?
Sure, that may be atop of some social media threads out there but to be fair, it’s just too early. But say the Sox start the season off with a 10-0 record, then we may just begin to dream.
(Can we all just take a second to close our eyes and picture a repeat from both the Salem Red Sox AND the Boston Red Sox…it gives you that toes in the water, toes in the sand, paradise, dream-like feeling…oh wait?)
Back in reality, the Sox will host the Winston Salem Dash in their season opener on April 8 at 7:05pm. Not only will the first 5,000 Sox fans to set foot in Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium receive free magnet schedules, but everyone will get to witness a midweek array of fireworks at the conclusion of the game.
(And those of us from last year all know that no matter if Salem earns a win or not, the fireworks send just about everyone home happy!)
So, to end with some motivational words from the only returning player on this season’s roster who also started in every post season game last year, Matty Johnson.
On the team and the Salem Red Sox Nation:
“I think we need to all come together to achieve one goal. Like last year, it was more of a team thing instead of an individual goal. I think when you worry about the team then the individual goals will come. I think it you play the game hard and do stuff the right way, then the game will treat you good.”