The Bethesda Big Train start their season Saturday with an exhibition game against the Gaithersburg Giants, but not all of the players will be in the dugout of Shirley Povich Field.
With the NCAA Regionals taking place June 2-5, Big Train players from the University of Kentucky, University of Maryland, University of Maryland-Baltimore County and Sacramento State will not be available until their collegiate season is complete.
The Big Train will be without 10 of its players for at least most of the first week of the season and that time table could be extended if the teams advance to the Super Regional or College World Series.
“You always have those challenges. Every year it’s like this,” manager Sal Colangelo said. “This is probably the worst year (of missing players), but you have to ask people to play out of position.”
14 Big Train players were present on report day, with fielders taking swings in the cage and pitchers taking throws from 60 feet in the bullpen. Colangelo decided that John Cerretani (Sacred Heart) will be the probable starting pitcher on Saturday and Cameron Vassar (James Madison) will get the probable start on the mound in Sunday’s exhibition game against the BCC Little Train.
Ken Waldichuk (St. Mary’s College) said that he expects the pitchers, especially the starters, to be throwing more innings early on in the season due to the lack of pitchers in the bullpen
“The starters will definitely have to go deeper in the games,” Waldichuk said. “We’re just going to have to make the best out of our arms.”
Colangelo told catcher Logan Driscoll (George Mason) that he and catcher Gaby Cruz (Bryant) would be splitting time between catcher and first base until more infielders arrive, Driscoll said.
While the void of players can be looked at from a frightening perspective, Driscoll and the rest of the team will have an opportunity for increased at-bats and playing time, something that the team is welcoming with open arms.
“That’s something that’s going to work in the guys that are here in our advantage just because we get our extra reps and everything,” Driscoll said.
The Big Train play only one team in the first week of the season that finished with a .500 record in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League standings in 2016 (D.C. Grays on June 8). Fighting for their second consecutive league championship and their sixth since 2005, the Big Train are locked in on getting a jump start in the first week for the top of the league standings.
“We’ll just do what we have to do to get by for the first week and once we do that, we’l be okay,” Colangelo said. “Once everyone comes (to Bethesda), we can roll.”
Check out the video from 2017 Report Day on YouTube!
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