The Salt Lake Buzz will be right in the thick of the Pacific Coast League pennant race if the past couple of years are any indication. The Portland Beavers, the team that became the Buzz, have seen much success the past two years under manager Scott Ullger.

In 1992 the Beavers were 42-30 in the first half of the season, finishing in second place two games behind Vancouver. In the second half of the year the Beavers placed first with a 41-31 record in the second half. The Beavers lost to Vancouver three games to two in the Northern Division playoffs, but their overall 83-61 regular season mark was the best in the PCL North.Last year the Beavers won both halves of the PCL Northern Division race and finished with a 87-56 overall record, 13.5 games better than second-place Vancouver. It was the best overall mark in the league.

Tucson, the Houston Astros' farm team, won both halves in the Southern Division in '93 and then went on to win the PCL championship series 4-2 over Portland.

The Beavers were consistently good. They didn't have a losing month and hit .298, which tied them for the best batting average in professional baseball. Portland's 53-19 home record was the best in all of pro baseball.

The Buzz will be quite a bit different than last year's Portland team, however. Only seven players on Salt Lake's opening day roster - pitchers Matt Stevens and Oscar Munoz, infielders Jeff Carter and Paul Russo and outfielders Bernardo Brito, J.T. Bruett and Dan Masteller - spent most of last year with the Beavers.

"We've got a young team, but we should be competitive again in the PCL," Ullger said. "It's hard to say what we'll do because I haven't seen what all the other teams have, but we'll be good."

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Pacific Coast League 1993 final standings

Northern Division

Team W-L Pct. GB

x-Portland 87-56 .608 --

Vancouver 72-68 .514 13.5

Edmonton 72-69 .511 14

Calgary 68-72 .486 17.5

Tacoma 69-71 .483 18

Southern Division

Team W-L Pct. GB

x-Tucson 83-60 .580 --

Albuquerque 71-71 .497 12

Colo. Springs 66-75 .468 16

Phoenix 64-79 .448 19

Las Vegas 58-85 .406 25

x-won both halves