Pupfish combine old, new faces for spring training
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
ALAMOGORDO — The 2013 White Sands Pupfish might look somewhat familiar to fans who’ve been following the Pecos League since it started in 2011.
Not only is 2011 player Ernie Munoz this year’s manager, but he’s bringing back a number of his teammates.
“We wanted to bring some of the guys from the 2011 team who were really in touch with the city and the city liked them,” Munoz said. “They enjoyed playing for us. They did well for us, so we figured why not bring them back for another year?”
Those returners include Chris DiBiasi, who, Munoz said, is going to be a team leader as well as a fan favorite, whether playing at second or short.
“He’s a big hitter, he’s played in the higher leagues and we’re looking for him to come in and bring some firepower for us,” the manager said. “Hit some home runs and drive in a lot of runs.”
Other former Pupfish include Chris Anklam, Brett Mendoza, Joey Friedman (also a former Invader), Rob Rodriguez and Steve Lemmon.
Also back is Case Rigby, a powerhouse for the Ruidoso Osos who joined White Sands mid way through 2012. Another former Roswell favorite, A.J. Morris, will also be wearing a Pupfish uniform this year.
But Munoz isn’t relying only on returners. Although he didn’t make it to the Pecos Spring League — he was busy coaching the University of California at Berkeley softball team — he got three players in the draft: James Coon, Joe Hicks and Phillip Roscoe.
Munoz said he never saw either Coon or Roscoe play, relying on recommendations from Pecos League commissioner Andrew Dunn and other coaches, but sounds confident they’ll be able to compete for spots on the roster.
Coon, a left-handed pitcher, had a 1.16 ERA in the spring league with 13 strikeouts for Galveston. Roscoe caught for the Sea Lions, tallying a solid .486 batting average.
“We needed another catcher on our roster, so we’re going to bring Roscoe in as kind of a catcher, corner guy and just give him a shot to make the team and see what he brings to the table,” Munoz said.
The only player the manager had seen was Hicks, a pitcher he played with a few years ago.
"I kind of know what he brought to the table and he went through the spring league, so we were able to pick him up as well,” Munoz said. “Those guys are going to help us, I hope, in our run for the championship.”
Another dozen players from colleges, universities and higher leagues round out the current roster, and while Munoz said he’s still looking to sign a few more players, he’s confident the spring roster is close to being set.
“Not too, too many. We don’t want it to get too chaotic, but we do want people to compete. Nobody’s coming in with a guaranteed spot. There are a couple of guys we’re looking forward to doing big things for us, but just like everybody else, they’ve got to come in and produce. There’s no favoritism here.”
And that’s something he wants to assure the Pupfish fans about.
“I have heard the city of Alamogordo, they may be thinking I’m bringing in a lot of people that I know and a lot of friends and things like that, but what they don’t know is I want to win a championship,” he said. “And I understand that winning a championship means putting the best guys on the field. And if that means my best friend, who’s on the team, needs to sit the bench, then he’ll sit the bench. I have no problem with that. They all know that. I’ve been straightforward with everybody that I’ve signed so far. Everybody knows that they’re coming in to compete for a position.”
The Pupfish will host spring training beginning May 5.
For more information visit Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs LLC. http://www.PecosLeague.com 575-680-2212