The Kid has arrived. Well, technically Hall of Famer Gary Carter was already in St. Lucie but now he can call the Florida State League his home.
Carter, who will manage St. Lucie, is just one of seven new skippers who will be in FSL dugouts this year. He was actually in St. Lucie last season but never made it to Tradition Field, piloting New York's Gulf Coast League affiliate on the back fields of the complex. Carter, who helped guide the Mets to the 1986 World Series crown, has aspirations of becoming a Major League skipper someday but views his work with St. Lucie as more than just a stepping stone.
"The Mets have given me a great opportunity," Carter said. "I'm very grateful and thankful for that, and I'm going to do everything I can to try and get [to the Major Leagues]. And if it does happen in a couple of years, fine. I feel I have the experience and knowledge to do the job. If it does happen, that will be a great day.
"But for now, I'm looking forward to being part of the community here and having another successful season," Carter said. "The Florida State League is known to be one of the best Minor Leagues. And it's a great developmental league."
Carter will be joined by a bevy of former Major Leaguers, including Don Buford, who comes to Daytona after spending a season in Washington as Frank Robinson's first-base coach. Buford, 69, starred for the Orioles in the late 60s and early 70s and has had four managerial stints in the Minor Leagues, the last of which came in 2004 at Aberdeen of the New York-Penn League.
Luis Sojo has been a fixture in the Yankees organization in one capacity or another for the better part of a decade and will serve as Tampa's manager after spending last season on Joe Torre's staff in New York. Luis Salazar (Vero Beach), Donnie Scott (Sarasota) and Ramon Aviles (Brevard County) are also new to the Florida State League, each bringing varying degrees of Major League experience.
While Kevin Boles is just 30 years old and doesn't have Major League experience, he does bring a certain pedigree to his new position as the manager in Ft. Myers. He is the son of former Marlins manager John Boles.
Lakeland will host the June 17th All-Star Game at Joker Marchant Stadium. The game will be the culmination of an All-Star weekend. Tickets can be purchased by going to www.lakelandtigers.net.
There shouldn't be any shortage of talent at this year's Mid-Summer Classic, either. While rosters have yet to be determined for league teams, several big name players are expected to begin the season in the Florida State League, all of whom could have a big impact. Potential faces to watch include former first-round picks Mike Pelfrey (St. Lucie), Ryan Braun (Brevard County), Ryan Harvey (Daytona) and Tyler Greene (Palm Beach), all of whom figure to make their presence felt.
Meanwhile, the Reds have officially moved into Sarasota, a year after operating their FSL affiliate under a player development contract with the Red Sox. Cincinnati has entered into a letter of intent to purchase the Sarasota franchise from Boston. The move is pending approval from Major League Baseball, The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues and the Florida State League.
"This is a reflection of our commitment to the city and county of Sarasota," Cincinnati's chief executive officer Bob Castellini said. "We want to become an integral part of the fabric of the community and identify ourselves as part of this wonderful city. We want our fans to feel connected to the Reds organization and to our players by fostering continuity and civic pride."