The Springfield Cardinals are almost ready for the start of the 2019 season and opening day at Hammons Field.
The team met with the media Monday before hitting the road for the opening of the Texas League season on the road against Northwest Arkansas.
The 15th year of Double-A baseball in Springfield brings a new skipper in Joe Kruzel. Kruzel spent the last two seasons in State College, Pennsylvania as skipper of the State College Spikes, the Cardinals short-season New York-Penn rookie league affiliate.
Kruzel says the team is eager to hit the field.
“Any time you’re beginning something new I think there’s a lot of excitement around the ballpark,” Kruzel told a gaggle of reporters. “The players are really excited because we’ve been in Spring Training, some of these guys 45, 50 days, and now we’re getting where it starts to count. I think they’re just eager to get going and excited.”
Kruzel also believes the team will be fun to watch.
“I really have a good feeling about this club,” he said. “Once they get their spikes in the ground and start playing a little more, I think you’ll see a really exciting ball club out there.”
One of the young players making their Springfield debut will be one of the organization’s top young players, outfielder Dylan Carlson. Carlson spent last year at Peoria and Palm Beach, hitting .257 with 7 home runs and 63 RBIs in Palm Beach.
“I’m extremely excited to get going,” Carlson said. “We’ve got a great group of guys in there. Great staff and I’m eager to get out here. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this city.”
Carlson said that former Springfield Cardinals told him about what it’s like to play in the Queen City.
“I’ve heard it’s a really great experience down here,” he said. “The fans make it a great experience and it’s a great league to be a part of so I’m excited.”
Carlson spent a significant amount of Spring Training time in the major league camp.
“I came in every day with the attitude that I wanted to learn something,” Carlson said. “I was looking at some of the older guys’ routines. Go in the cage, watch Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Carpenter…see how they approach the game and what they did. Watch their routine and find the parts of theirs that work for me and implement it into my routine.”
Opening night at Hammons Field is Thursday, April 11th against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.