Monday was my last day at Spring Training and the Timber Rattlers won. They beat Fort Wayne over at the Peoria (AZ) Sports Complex by a score of 9-5. You can read about the game and the players and some of the comments of manager Matt Erickson on the blog.
It's hard to believe, but at this time next week, the Timber Rattlers will be in Appleton. On April 3, the Midwest League season starts.
I asked Matt if you had any message for the fans back home.
"We still have 18 [position players] on our working group," he said. "We have to cut down to 12 guys come next Monday and there's some tough decisions to be made."
"I can tell you that we're going to be awful young as position players are concerned," he continued. "There's some ability, but there's going to definitely be some growing pains. I know these guys will get better. They've all competed well."
Then, he turned to the pitchers. Even though he doesn't know the exact staff right now, he has liked what he has seen this March.
"I expect good things out of our pitching staff," he said. "The pitching staff that's coming up there seems to be the strength of the team, very similar to what we had a couple years ago. If those guys can keep us in some ball games and pound the zone, we'll continue to try to make sure we're making plays behind them and we'll find ways to score runs."
We've talked a little bit elsewhere about the offense. But, don't expect as many home runs out of the 2014 Timber Rattlers as you have seen in the last few years.
"We're going to have some speed," he said. "I don't think we'll have a lot of power. But there's a few guys that have a little pop in their bats."
Erickson's final words on the roster of the 2014 Timber Rattlers could be said about any team of the previous 19 Timber Rattlers teams that have come north to the Fox Cities.
"It's funny," he started. "We all try to think what they are going to be, but nobody knows for sure until we run them out there. Then, the game tells us what they are."
The final question I asked him was if the Appleton native was ready to come home.
"I'm ready," he answered. "I'm ready right now. I've been here since mid-February and a lot of our players have, too. They're excited to come up north and see what it's all about."
I'm excited to see what it's all about, too. I hope you are as well.
Let's have a great season, Timber Rattlers fans.