Salt Lake Bees add veteran depth for Opening Day
Try telling Barry Enright that winning doesn't matter in the minors.
The Salt Lake Bees starter got a special delivery Tuesday: a Pacific Coast League Championship ring. It was from his old club, the Reno Aces, that he started 21 games for last year.
He'd love to someday add a World Series ring to the collection someday, but as long as he's in Triple-A ball, a championship with Salt Lake sounds pretty sweet as well.
"Our main goal is to help the big league club, but while we're here, we want to win here, too," Enright said. "I ended up getting that ring in Reno, and it's pretty cool. We're looking for an opportunity to play up in the big leagues, but there's a great ballclub here, too."
The Bees are hoping to be one of Triple A's top teams this year with a retooled clubhouse that brings a lot more experience than last season's opening day group. There will be 18 vets with at least a few caps in the majors, and 12 of the players who will be in the clubhouse Thursday for the opener against the Padres are 28 or older.
While some of the top Anaheim Angels organizational prospects are in low-A ball the closest Salt Lake fans will come to another Mike Trout is likely on his bobblehead giveaway night the veteran push at the Triple-A level means the Bees will have players who are major-league ready and know how to win, manager Keith Johnson said.
"Anytime you're talking about veteran guy, you're talking about a guy who knows how to handle himself," he said. "The day-to-day isn't as big of a deal, because they understand the grind of the season."
Last year, Johnson said, the Bees struggled with shallow depth and maintaining confidence through bad stretches. This year, he's looking for it to be less of an issue, especially with a host of new pitchers mined from other systems.
There's still good, young arms, with organization guys such as A.J. Schugel, David Carpenter and Ryan Brasier. But hurlers such as Enright, Fernando Cabrera and Dane De La Rosa could be more of the steady hands, guys who hopefully won't be as thrown by a poor inning or start.
That will similarly be the case in the field, where veteran guys such as outfielder Scott Cousins or infielder Luis Rodriguez will add composure. Catcher might be the deepest position: The Bees bring in Luke Carlin, Jon Hester and Chris Snyder, who all have played significant time in the majors.
That's not to say there aren't prospects. The team returns a core of outfielder Kole Calhoun, and infielders Luis Jimenez and Efren Navarro, who were significant contributors last year. All are 26 or younger, and Calhoun and Jimenez have been graded as top-10 Angels prospects by MLB.com.
Calhoun said being in spring training only reinforced his desire to keep climbing the ladder.
"You know what it's like to be up there, and be a part of the whole team," he said. "Those guys do everything at the highest level. You take a little bit of that and learn from them, you'll be alright."
O Tucson at Salt Lake
First pitch • 6:35 p.m.
TV • KJZZ
Thursday • vs. Tucson, 6:35 p.m.
Friday • vs. Tucson, 6:35 p.m.
Saturday • vs. Tucson, 6:35 p.m.
Sunday • vs. Tucson, 1:05 p.m.
Monday • vs. Reno, 6:35 p.m.
Tuesday • vs. Reno, 6:35 p.m.
April 10 • vs. Reno, 6:35 p.m.
April 11 • vs. Reno, 6:35 p.m.