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Suns hit old road to home

April 14, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

Excuse the Hagerstown Suns if they feel like wearing their gray uniforms today.

After all, it may be the local Single-A team's home opener, but its just another new city and another new - at least in location - ballpark to experience.

cont. from sports page

The Suns, with a cast as new and untested as their home whites and freshly minted Maryland quarters, play their first game at Municipal Stadium tonight at 7:05 against the Greensboro Bats, kicking off the franchise's 20th anniversary season and introducing a complete roster of new faces to local fans.

The Suns won't have much time to prepare for the home opener or to acclimate themselves to the park they will play 71 of the next 134 games in. Hagerstown finished its traditional eight-game season-opening road trip with a rainout in Asheville, N.C., on Thursday and rolled into town for the first time in the wee hours this morning.

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But it doesn't mean manager Rolando Pino and the team aren't looking forward to getting to the place they will call home.

"It's really big for these kids to get home," Pino said via telephone. "It's a chance for them to get settled in and get their places. But it's also a chance for us to get to a place were we can do more work on our fundamentals. On the road, we haven't had the chance to work on a lot of things yet."

The Suns have only one player who spent the entire season here in 1999 - pitcher Marcos Sandoval - and one who had a cup of coffee in town - reliever Peyton Lewis - as the most experienced players on the roster. All the rest are new to full-season baseball. That results in some growing pains.

"Our starting pitching has been our strength so far," Pino said. "We have to be able to execute when we have runners in scoring position and our relievers have to come out and do a better job."

Pino has been in the experimentation stage with the Suns, moving players around in the batting order, trying to find which lineup is the most potent.

Thus far, third baseman Robert Cosby and outfielder Aaron Fera have been the most consistent. Cosby is hitting .300 while Fera is at .346 with a home run and three RBI. Outfielders Shannon Carter and Auntwan Riggins, shortstop Doug Roper and second baseman Jaime Goudie have shown consistency.

"When the fans come out (tonight)," Pino said, "they will see a team that's hustling and playing to win, that's for sure."

Today




Greensboro Bats

(Keith Dunn, 0-0, 3.60)

at Hagerstown Suns

Aaron Dean (0-0, 1.80)

Promotion: Boog Powell will be signing autographs at the game

Time: 7

Radio: WHAG 1410

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