Scrappers set pace for season
Players were given an introduction to the type of training they'll receive at Mahoning Valley.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- The heat has been turned up at Cafaro Field, and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers were the first to feel it.
Word is, the pressure is also about to rise.
"They've got a lot of things going on right now, and this town also offers a lot socially," said Scrappers first-year manager Dave Turgeon, putting into perspective the focus minor league baseball players must keep.
"This is going to be an interesting week for them," he said. "It's still a honeymoon. They're still living on the fact that they just got drafted and signed with the [Cleveland] Indians."
Scrappers arrive: Turgeon spoke Wednesday following the team's first workout at Cafaro Field. Scrappers coaches, in addition to Indians hitting coordinator Willie Upshaw, conducted drills on the first day of this week's minicamp.
"What we've done in the past is have minicamp in Winter Haven, [Fla.]," Scrappers coach Rick Gutierrez said. "This year they decided to let guys go where they're supposed to go and get situated with the place.
"We're just trying to get guys situated with hitting and get them into a rhythm."
Scrappers pitching coach Ken Rowe added, "They did a lot of running, they did a lot of throwing, they got a lot of instruction. This was a long day for them."
The camp will serve as an introduction of the Indians' expectations, Turgeon said, with the players being fed an overwhelming amount of information.
"I told them to just process that information as best as you can, have patience with yourselves and slowly let it get in there," he said. "In about two or three weeks, it's all going to start clicking for them."
Season opener: But, it will be just days before the Scrappers begin putting that information to use. They open the season next Tuesday with a four-game series at the Utica (N.Y.) Blue Sox before playing at home June 23 against the Williamsport (Pa.) Crosscutters.
"This week is going to be evaluating tools, but you really can't [in every aspect]," Turgeon said. "You're not going to see if a guy can compete because there's no fans in the seats. When the bell rings, we're going to see what we've got."
Turgeon arrived in the Mahoning Valley from Winter Haven, where he's spent the last 21/2 months as an instructor for the Indians' extended spring training program.
"They just went through a hell of a camp with me," he said of players who reported to Mahoning Valley and Rookie-League Burlington. "They went through 21/2 months of a very rigorous, challenging, demanding camp. They all got through it and they all got better and this is their reward," he said. "I'm happy they'll get a chance to play in front of some people."
Incoming players: Still, Turgeon must adjust to a number of players who are playing professional baseball for the first time. At least 12 of the Indians' draft picks have been assigned to Mahoning Valley, with the highest being third-rounder Nicholas Moran, a 6-foot-5 right-handed pitcher from Elk Grove, Calif., and Fresno State University.