Train Robber bats hot in spring training game vs. Raton
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
LAS VEGAS, N.M. — One of the teams picked to finish near the top of the Pecos League and another that’s not expected to finish quite as high squared off in the opening game of Tuesday’s spring training tripleheader at Highlands University in Las Vegas.
The host Train Robbers — who many are picking to take the league title — scored more than two dozen runs in a marathon game against Raton, but neither manager was really looking at the score. Rather, their goal was to evaluate their players and both saw plusses and minuses.
“We looked good,” said Las Vegas manager Casey Dill. “The hitting’s always going to be there. This actually reminded me a lot of the team we had in Las Cruces last year. I think we probably scored 25 runs this game. At the same time, the part I’m disappointed in is we made five errors and I think we walked too many guys. To me, I don’t think they should have scored as many runs as they did, and that was a reflection of us not playing great on defense and walking guys with the lead. We weren’t pitching with the lead and throwing strikes. We’ve definitely got some things to work on, but it’s definitely not a bad way to start the season.”
While the Osos only scored about five runs — there was no scoreboard and no books, so only those keeping close track of who crossed home plate knew for sure — Raton manager Ray Hancock also saw some plussing, especially from a pitcher and shortstop who came straight to the stadium from the Albuquerque airport.
“Our pitching let us down a little bit, but this is the first time we’ve been on the mound,” Hancock said. “A couple of our guys actually slept in their car last night in order to come here and play today. You sleep in the car, you get like a half hour’s worth of sleep actually — it was cold last night — so I didn’t even ask them to play, but they wanted to play so I let them.”
And that’s the kind of dedication the manager is looking forward to seeing from his team.
“I’m happy they want to play that way, because that’s my kind of ball,” he said.
The Train Robbers had several days of practice in front of them, and Dill — who coached at Las Cruces in 2012 — saw some similiarities — not especially positive similiarities — in the two teams.
“Not taking anything away from the (Vaqueros), the reason we lost as many games as we did was because of errors and walks,” he said. “I think we lost 28 games in the regular season, and 10 of those games we were beat. The other 18 we beat ourselves. So I don’t want to be that team again this year that beats ourselves. We’ve got to play the game we’re capable of and we’ve got to make other teams beat us.”
To gewrt to that point, Dill said his team will be working hard leading up to opening day in Roswell May 14.
“We’re going to take 10,000 balls between now and opening day,” he said. “We’ll get it figured out. These guys are working very hard. Great group of guys. I can already tell this is going to be one of my most favorite teams I’ve ever been a part of. They’re committed. They’re working hard and we’ll do the work it takes to get where we need to be.”
The Osos will be in Raton getting to know each other and improve their play — and hoping they don’t get rained out — but one thing Hancock said he has no problem with is community support.
“I have the best town in the country, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s no joke,” he said. “Everybody’s been so sincere. They’ve basically given me the key to the city. I”ve got combinations to places I never thought I would have got. Keys to places I probably shouldn’t have, but they’ve been very helpful. Couldn’t ask for better help.”
So no matter what happens on the field — and Hancock is expecting good things there — the manager predicts the Osos will see success.
“It’s going to be a successful season,” he said. “Today was just practice, and that’s the way I looked at it. Yeah, we got our butts kicked but it’s just practice. We’ll come back. No problem.”
Oso David Early goes for the tag on Train Robber Will Walsh. (Photo by Karen Boehler)
Edison Alvarez pitched two innings for Las Vegas Tuesday. (Photo by Karen Boehler)
Brett Smith waits for the ball as Will Walsh slides in with a triple. (Photo by Karen Boehler)
Second baseman Randy Wells makes the toss to Evan Mansell. (Photo by Karen Boehler)
Adam Ziegler started for the Osos. (Photo by Karen Boehler)
For more information visit Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs LLC. http://www.PecosLeague.com 575-680-2212