Marc Amicone walked around the Smith’s Ballpark concourse Wednesday night, grimacing about the weekend weather forecast.
Too nice, in this case.
With temperatures in the mid-70s this weekend in Salt Lake City, the Bees will be playing out of town for the next 12 games. Of course, that scheduling twist would happen, after an April when the team endured multiple rainouts and other unfavorable conditions – including the snow that halted Tuesday’s game after six innings.
“It’s cold here, man,” said Bees outfielder Brennon Lund, who played for Bingham High School and BYU, but had forgotten what April in Utah was like after performing elsewhere in the Los Angeles Angels system.
Bees manager Lou Marson is not blaming the weather for his team’s 8-16 record in April (the Bees have split two games in May). But attendance figures drive home why April is not exactly Amicone’s favorite month, from his perspective as the team’s general manager. Prior to Thursday morning’s capacity crowd of 14,511 — including 12,000 fifth-and sixth-grade students for Utah Prevention Day — the Bees ranked 13th in the 16-team Pacific Coast League with a 3,698 average for 12 dates.
Those numbers will improve dramatically as the season goes along. The team's record also should get better, after an opening month marked by the usual movement between the Bees and Angels and other factors, including the parent club's instructions to make players more versatile.
“We have guys playing all over the field,” Marson said. “If they have a need for a bat up in Anaheim, they're comfortable with them being able to play all over the field.”
That's why first baseman Matt Thaiss has played six games at third base and outfielders have moved around.
Inevitably, the Bees were going to lose starting pitcher Griffin Canning to the Angels. He spent even less time than expected in Salt Lake City this spring, being promoted after making three starts and striking out 17 batters in 16 innings, with two walks and one earned runs allowed.
Aside from Canning, pitching has been inconsistent. Entering Thursday's game, the team ERA of 6.18 ranked 13th.
The Bees' .275 batting average ranked fifth. The offense has enabled the team to stage some comebacks, including a five-run rally in the eighth inning Wednesday for a 12-9 win over Tacoma, thanks to Jarrett Parker's grand slam.
“This league has been crazy,” Marson said. “I kind of joke around and say it's 'arena baseball.' It feels like a game's never out of hand. We've been swinging the bats well offensively; we just need to keep some runs off the board.”
Lund has struggled at the plate in his Triple-A debut, though, batting .188. “It's different at every level,” he said. “But I feel like I'm adjusting a little bit better. I mean, my numbers aren't really showing it … it's a work in progress.”
Lund hopes to heat up, as the temperatures rise this spring. Amicone just hopes the good weather holds, until the Bees come home May 16.