By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Of all the reasons he could be excited about the upcoming season of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, it’s the unknown that excites manager Tom Trebelhorn most.
“There’s going to be crazy things, there’s going to be funny things, there’s going to be euphoria, there’s going to be depression, but the fun is trying to keep the boys on an even keel,” Trebelhorn said.
The Volcanoes’ season kicks off with a preseason game against the College All-Stars Thursday, June 16, at Volcanoes Stadium and then the team hits the road for a five-game stand against the Spokane Indians. Game time is 6:35 p.m. The College All-Star team is comprised of players from Portland-area colleges and universities who are out of school and still on the hunt for a spot in the major or minor leagues. The Volcanoes are the Class A short-season affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, who took the World Series pennant in 2010.
While the Volcanoes struggled to find sure footing last season, Trebelhorn said its difficult to put his finger on the pulse of the team with much of the roster still to be determined. The Volcanoes will receive their final loadout after the draft, held Monday, June 13.
“Out of the chute we’ll be a competitive club, but we have to get some good pitching,” Trebelhorn said. The team suffered from a shallow bullpen last year as the bigger names jumped over positions on the Volcanoes and headed straight to the line-up in the Giants’ double-A and triple-A teams. “As the season progresses you’ve got to get to get some influx from the draft,” Trebelhorn added.
He still saw lots of bright spots in the players he expected to bring from spring leagues to Salem-Keizer.
“Danny Brock is in great shape and good season. Brice Cutspec signed as a free agent last year and he’s a big left-handed hitter. John Eshlesman has had a good spring season and he’s an experienced player from last year and Julio Izturis could return. Outfielders Brett Krill and Ryan Honeycutt, a left-hand hitter, also had a good spring,” Trebelhorn said.
He has his eye on leftfielder Charles Jones, an 18-year-old out of Boonville, Mo., who hit over .500 in the 2009-10 season for Boonville and led the team in hits, triples, home runs and RBIs. Joe Staley, who Trebelhorn described as “a pretty versatile player from the 2007 draft,” is also expected to return.
“We finished the spring season with a record of 29-8-5, so we’ve got some guys here that can play,” he said.
In addition to returning talent, Trebelhorn said the World Series win has positive effects on the clubs downstream.
“There’s not only the connection of being part of the Giants’ club, but they’ve played alongside Brandon Crawford, Andres Torres and behind Barry Zito,” Trebelhorn said. “On the other hand, we might draft players who are Devil Ray fans and we have to make them into Giants fans.”
For the beginning, as well as the end of the season, Trebelhorn said it’s all about keeping an even keel.
“If we’re playing another game, there’s always going to be a chance for everyone to be heroic,” he said.