Baseball: New and familiar faces help Salt Lake Bees win home opener
Salt Lake's home opener Friday following an eight-game road trip to begin 2012's Triple-A season brought a bunch of new faces to Spring Mobile Ballpark.
Yet, how long prospects such as Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun and Hank Conger will remain part of the Bees' potent and versatile lineup is a question only the Los Angeles Angels can answer.
Still, "We're finally home," said Efren Navarro, speaking for the Bees (6-3), who were settling into their own locker room. "We get to wear white pants now. It's exciting."
Friday night, the Bees used their speed to claim their 5-4 victory. This included a two-run stand-up triple by Trout in the fourth inning.
Navarro, one of the few holdovers from last season, definitely brought back memories of 2011, when he was deemed the best-fielding first baseman in all of minor league baseball.
Pat O'Conner, president of Minor League Baseball, will present Navarro with his 2011 Rawlings Gold Glove Award prior to Saturday's game.
On Friday, Navarro's glove saved at least three runs for Salt Lake pitchers who walked a high-wire act before 6,560 bundled spectators.
There were a few bobbles in the field. Tucson took a 2-0 lead when Conger fired the baseball into right field in an aborted effort to turn a double play on a tap-back to the mound with the bases loaded.
Tucson (2-7) starting pitcher Jorge Reyes returned the favor in the third, throwing a bunt attempt by Andrew Romine into right field. Romine eventually scored.
That the game was being played at all was a victory of sorts. Last season, the trifecta of winter weather snow, sleet and rain forced postponements of home opener twice.
Though temperatures were in the 50s at the first pitch, skies remained reasonably clear.
"It's going to rain," Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson declared, in an attempt to fake out Mother Nature with reverse psychology. "So bad we're not going to be able to play for two weeks."
Superstitious? Foolish question.
"I'm a ballplayer," Johnson said. "What do you think?"
It had already been an eventful day for the Bees long before David Pauley threw the first pitch. They left their hotel in Reno at 4:45 a.m. for the airport, where they proceeded to wait on the tarmac.
"There was a silver lining," Johnson said about the delay. "We only had to wait an hour. We still got home at a decent hour."
It was nothing new and probably a sign of what's to come for the next five months or so.
"It's a long day," Navarro said. "Your body gets used to it."
Salt Lake 5, Tucson 4
R Salt Lake first baseman Efren Navarro raps out three singles.
• Bees center fielder Mike Trout lines a two-run, stand-up triple to left in the fourth inning.
• Loek van Mil, one of four Bees pitchers, pitches two scoreless innings of relief to earn the victory.
Kurt Kragthorpe • Salt Lake Bees general manager Marc Amicone carries out baseball-loving father's wish. > D5
Bees' remaining homestand
Saturday • Tucson at Salt Lake, 6:35 p.m.
Sunday • Tucson at Salt Lake, 1:05 p.m.
Monday • Tucson at Salt Lake, 6:35 p.m.
Tuesday • Las Vegas at Salt Lake, 6:35 p.m.
Wednesday • Las Vegas at Salt Lake, 6:35 p.m.
Thursday • Las Vegas at Salt Lake, 6:35 p.m.
April 20 • Las Vegas at Salt Lake, 6:35 p.m.