It was January 24 when Danny Sheaffer was announced as the 2013 manager of the Princeton Rays but it was more than evident that his reign as P-Rays skipper really kicked off when he visited Princeton for the first time on February 19.
Sheaffer had a full day of touring "Everything Princeton" while also being the centerpiece of two receptions that left him exclaiming that the Princeton Rays experience will be "much more than he expected."
He arrived in Princeton at 11:00 a.m. and toured all the facilities at the P-Rays' home, Hunnicutt Field, as well as the Princeton Health and Fitness Center prior to meeting more than 30 members of the media and the P-Rays' local board of directors as part of the "2013 Princeton Rays Media Appreciation Luncheon."
In addressing the media at the luncheon that he will be working with this coming summer, he shared many tidbits of information to give all in attendance as to what they might expect when he returns in mid-June, including.
On baseball at the rookie-level Appalachian League:
"This is baseball in its truest form. These kids are coming out with enthusiasm, they're coming out with just raw talent and it's my job to kind of bring that together and make them professionals."
On his managerial style in dealing with players this coming summer:
"I don't think they need a buddy. They've got enough friends. They need somebody they can respect and trust, that can be a reflection of the (Tampa Bay Rays) organization and their policies and that's what6 I am going to try to be."
On describing his on-field managerial philosophy:
"We're going to play baseball the right way and I only know one way to play it and that's aggressive. I think if you make a mistake, you make it aggressively. I'm not a guy that's going to sit in the dugout with my legs crossed and just watch the game. I love to compete. If it's important for me, it will be important for the players."
The main goal of Sheaffer in his role as Princeton Rays' manager:
"Ultimately the goal is to get these kids as far as they can go in professional baseball. If that is all the way to Tampa Bay, amen. If it's not, when they walk away, they can walk away with their head held high."
Following the luncheon, Sheaffer's afternoon was further spent touring various parts of Mercer County to familiarize himself with what the county had to offer for him and his family during the course of their 11-week stay in the area this summer.
A second 90-minute reception was held for the general public to meet Sheaffer that same evening at First Christian Church. An enthusiastic crowd rubbed elbows with the former seven-year major leaguer and the evening concluded with the awarding of numerous Princeton Rays' door prizes to lucky fans.
The dawning of the next day, February 20, saw the Princeton Rays being exactly four months from the opening of the 2013 Appalachian League season and Danny Sheaffer back in his nearby home of Mount Airy, NC preparing to journey to the Tampa Bay Rays' spring training base in Port Charlotte, FL.
And, for the local residents and followers of Princeton Rays' Baseball, the good vibrations radiating from the February 19 event, devoted to professional baseball has everyone here pumped up. Over the time until the Appalachian League lifts the curtain on the 2013 season, these people will in turn be spreading the word about the atmosphere of the nights at Hunnicutt Field to all they come in contact with as ambassadors for the team they love.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.