After spending the past two months in the relative warmth of Arizona during spring training, members of the Salt Lake Bees were a little shocked by the chilly temperatures that welcomed them to Utah on Tuesday.
Still, they can't wait to start playing games that count in the standings.
"We've been through a long spring, and we're all ready to get going," said new Bees manager Bobby Mitchell during the team's annual media day at Franklin Covey Field.
With Monday's snowstorm and subsequent wet field conditions at the park, the team had to scratch its planned batting practice Tuesday. But it did have time to meet the press and get acquainted or reacquainted, as the case may be, with its new hometown for the spring and summer.
The Bees will get out of the Utah cold to open the season. They start a four-game set in Las Vegas on Thursday followed by another four-game series in Tucson. The home opener will be on April 11 against Portland.
"Vegas and Tucson is a great trip to start the season on," said Bees veteran outfielder Terry Evans, a Triple-A All-Star last season. "It's so cold here right now, but it gets too hot there (in Las Vegas and Tucson) later in the season, so to go ahead and knock those trips out now is pretty nice."
Of the 24 players on the Bees' roster, 14 played at least part of last season for Salt Lake. That doesn't include opening-day pitcher Nick Green, a 23-year-old top prospect in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim farm system who spent all of last season in double-A Arkansas but was called up to pitch for the Bees in the playoffs last September.
Six current Bees players spent parts of last season with the parent Angels Evans, shortstop Brandon Wood, third baseman Matt Brown, first baseman Kendry Morales and catchers Ryan Budde and Bobby Wilson. Wood, listed as the No. 1 prospect in the Angels' system by Baseball America, hit 23 homers with 77 RBIs for the Bees last season, while Evans hit .316 with 15 homers and 75 RBIs in leading the team to the PCL's Pacific North Division championship.
Salt Lake's most experienced starting pitcher is Kasey Olenberger, who went 10-7 for the Bees a year ago. Salt Lake will also have the Angels' top pitching prospect in starter Nick Adenhart. The 21-year-old went 10-8 with a 3.65 ERA in double-A in 2007.
Overall, Mitchell likes the players he will manage in his first stint at the Triple-A level.
"These players are a combination of a couple of things," said Mitchell. "There are some young guys that are coming up through the organization and there are some other guys that have been here. I think it's a good mix. The pitching should be solid. The base running and fielding should be solid. Some of the hitters have already had good years here and we should continue that also."Franklin Covey Field, meanwhile, was conspicuously without its old scoreboard on Tuesday. It didn't have a new one just yet, either. But it will. The team is excited about a new video board that is currently on its way to Salt Lake and should be ready for the home opener. It will be 31 feet wide by 15 feet high and will offer replays of game action and other video to enhance game experience for the fans.
Salt Lake Bees opening roster