WINNIPEG – It was a perfect day for baseball as the Winnipeg Goldeyes opened spring training. After a winter of solitude, Shaw Park was once again a hub of activity as the organization also held their annual open house.
There were not a lot of familiar faces to be found after the Goldeyes roster underwent a major overhaul in the off-season. Just six players are back among the 25 players in training camp.
“Not everybody can continue to play independent baseball for a long time.” said manager Rick Forney. “It’s hard to make a living. You got to get out at some point and get a real job and move on but we had guys retire and we had some guys that we wanted to make changes from and forced a lot of roster turnover.”
Changes should have been expected anyway after the Goldeyes finished 26.5 games out of first place last season. It was just the third time in 22 seasons the Goldeyes had a losing record. Forney has since completely revamped the pitching staff with just two starters back from last year in Edwin Carl and Kyle Anderson.
“It’s hard to replace what we lost in Nick Hernandez and Matt Jackson and Brendan Lafferty.” Forney said. “But it creates opportunity for someone new to come in here and establish some roots.”
Offensively the Goldeyes lost two big bats with departures of Casey Haerther and Josh Mazzola, and Forney focused on getting quicker over the winter.
“We hit the ball over the fence a lot more today than I expected.” said Forney. “Our team is really built on speed but I guess we got a little bit of sneaky power potential in there as well.”
“There’s a lot of guys that have come in that have a lot of experience.” said Goldeyes infielder Casio Grider. “Maybe not with this team but a lot of triple-A guys. Actually some guys I played with the Dodgers too.”
Langley, British Columbia’s Wes Darvill is one of the many newcomers. The 24-year-old infielder joined the team after playing in the Chicago Cubs organization the last seven seasons and he thinks his new team will be a good fit.
“I talked to my buddy who played here, Nate Samson.” said Darvill. “He loved it. Nothing but good things.”
The Goldeyes have two home exhibition games on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Fargo Redhawks. The Fish will then play four pre-season games on the road before heading straight to Joplin for the start of a season opening 10 game road trip.
WATCH: The Winnipeg Goldeyes open training camp