Aces make Reno debut
Sun News Service
When the Reno Aces players made their media debut Tuesday afternoon, the eyes of the hitters lit up as they watched the winds blow to left field. The breeze was enough for them to think Aces Ballpark may be hitter friendly.
“It appears to be blowing out, so for a hitter that’s always a good thing when you see the wind blowing like that,” Aces first baseman Josh Whitesell said. “(There’s a) good hitter’s eye with a good background to be able to see the ball and hopefully it carries well. We’ll find out today or tomorrow in BP (batting practice).
“The new facility and everything looks nice.”
But before they got the chance to partake in a simulated game, they got a taste of Northern Nevada weather. The temperature dropped dramatically and the winds changed direction and began to blow so hard that the warning track dirt turned those lit up eyes into tiny slivers as players tried to keep the dirt out.
Despite the weather, the players were excited to be in their new home. The 9,100-capacity ballpark will take the players some time to get used to, and they will get their first crack at it April 17 when they play their home opener against the Salt Lake Bees. The Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, will start the season on the road Thursday against the Bees.
For most of the players, their first time stepping foot in Reno was Monday. Most of them used the day to get partially settled into their apartments before putting on their white uniforms with the cursive Aces logo emblazoned across their chests.
“Look, those players are out there in their uniforms and they look fantastic,” said Stuart Katzoff, managing partner of SK Baseball, who own the Aces. “I just met with them and they’re really proud to be a part of this town, a part of this community and wear Reno and wear Aces on their chest. It’s going to be a great amenity to the whole community, something that should really be a showcase.”
The team spent about an hour taking the team photo, individual mug shots and picking out their at-bat music before the nearly 25 members of the media swarmed them with questions about this season, past seasons and about their lives.
The fact players even got to play on the field before the start of the season may have been a minor miracle. A construction crew of 275 worked six days a week to get the project done, but more importantly the Northern Nevada that dampened the mood Tuesday barely affected construction of the park, allowing the project to stay on schedule.
“I was here for meet the manager (in January) and I came out and said, ‘Holy smokes, is it even going to be done?'” said Aces first-year coach Brett Bulter, who played professionally with Atlanta, Cleveland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
“They’ve done a tremendous job to get it to this point to allow us even before the seventeenth to get on the field and be able to workout a little bit. We didn’t know if we were going to be able to do that. The Katzoff family, they spared no expense and they got everything to this point to where we can play on the seventeenth and we’re excited about that.”