Thursday, April 7, 2011

Opening Day At Gwinnett

Photo courtesy Brian Merzbach,

The Bulls open their season tonight against the Gwinnett Braves, the Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Coolray Field is just a taxi ride away from downtown Atlanta which may be a good thing for Atlanta, but I'd bet sort of works on the heads of the players.

The Braves get pretty good local coverage and the Gwinnett Daily Post had a very nice special issue in last Sunday's paper. An impossibly young-looking local reporter does a blog.

This is the Braves third year in Lawrenceville. They were in Richmond, Virginia for a couple of centuries before then. Coolray Field itself has had mixed reviews, such as this one and this one.

Most years the Braves are the Bulls toughest opponent in the South Division of the International League. They usually have a solid mix of veterans and hungry youngsters and it doesn't look like this year will be much different.

In the meantime, we're mostly going to have to wait until 7 o'clock to see what the starting lineup tonight's going to be. Other than the starting pitcher, Charlie pretty much dodged that question during the interviews, as he usually does.


Richard De Los Santos is slated to start tonight. He is one of my favorite Bulls pitchers. He had a terrific year in 2010, in particular a stretch in July and August when he won eight in a row with a 1.42 ERA (see his profile here). Although he does not show up on any of the hot prospect lists, his stats are getting better. He's been in the Rays system for six years, but until last year he was plagued with shoulder problems. Here's hoping he stays with us all year.

  • Mike Ekstrom has cleared waivers and should be showing up soon, according to Rays Index.
  • The News & Observer noticed the Bulls season is starting with a photo of "infielder" Justin Ruggiano. Photo gallery has a couple of good shots of players at work. Looks like some uniform changes for this year, at least the practice jerseys.
  • The Herald-Sun did a start of the season story as well. Focusing on Desmond Jennings.
  • I don't think I've provided this older link to a story in the Herald-Sun on Elliot Johnson. He is, after all, a hometown lad now.
  • And I don't think I've put up this link from several days ago about the overall Rays minor league system. Today's a good day for that.

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