Gabella Led Canefires Open Saturday

Bees Well Represented in Fall/Winter Leagues

Jim Gabella (far right) will manage (L to R) Blake Wood, Jeff Bianchi, and Tyler Chambliss in Hawaii. (John Larson)

By Randy Wehofer / Burlington Bees | September 27, 2007 12:46 PM

Burlington, IA (September 27, 2007) - After setting the Burlington Bees franchise record for most Midwest League wins by a manager this past season, Jim Gabella is going to spend a couple of months in Hawaii this off-season. Gabella won't be taking a well-deserved vacation, he'll be managing the West Oahu Canefires in the Hawaiian Winter Baseball league. The HWB started up again last season after a 10-year absence from the baseball scene. Each team's is a combination of players from a few Major League systems and players from the Japanese Minor Leagues. The players are considered prospects by their organizations and coming off seasons in single-A or short-season baseball.

The Canefires are one of four teams in the HWB and consists of players from the Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, and St. Louis Cardinals minor league system along with Japanese players from the Seibu Lions and Nippon Ham Fighters. Gabella will be alongside many familiar faces in Hawaii. Bees' Athletic Trainer Yoshi Kitaura will be part of the staff along with three players from the Royals system that all spent at least part of '07 with the Bees: SS Jeff Bianchi, RHP Tyler Chambliss, and RHP Blake Wood. OF Joe Dickerson was also slated to participate, but has been pulled from the roster after separating his shoulder in the final week of the season. Dickerson tied for ninth in the Midwest League in batting this year with Josh Bell of Great Lakes who is set to be the starting third baseman for the Canefires. Other players on the team that were in the MWL this year are: Craig Gentry (Clinton), Marco Gonzales (Quad Cities), K.C. Herren (Clinton), Kenley Jansen (Great Lakes), Steve Johnson (Great Lakes), Chad Tracy (Clinton), and Garrett White (Great Lakes). The season runs through November 19th. Fans can follow along with Gabella and his team through the HWB official website at www.hawaiiwinterbaseball.com.

The more well-known Arizona Fall League runs October 9th-November 17th and the Bees will have many alumni participating again this year. The Royals representatives will be part of the Surprise Rafters. Steve Luebber will be the Royals staff member as the pitching coach. He served in that capacity with the Bees in 2006. On the roster from the Royals will be (year(s) with Bees): RHP Greg Atencio ('03-04), LHP Nate Hoelscher ('03), LHP Dusty Hughes ('03), 1B Kila Kaaihue ('03-04), 3B Marc Maddox ('07), OF Jose Duarte ('06), and OF Chris Lubanski ('04). Duarte is listed as "Taxi Squad" player and will only be active on Wednesday and Saturdays. Former Bees' pitching coach, and Burlington resident, Derek Botelho will represent the Atlanta Braves and serve as the pitching coach for the Peoria Javelinas. Botelho was the pitching coach with the Double-A Mississippi Braves this past season. Fans can follow the action in Arizona by going to the Bees' website at www.gobees.com and selecting the Arizona Fall League from the list of leagues in the drop-down box at the top of the page.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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