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Schedule is part of change for Suns

November 11, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown has been swept up in the winds of change which are blowing across the South Atlantic region of minor league baseball.

Baseball fans won't need Lou Scally's barometer readings to tell that the climate has changed in the South Atlantic League for the 2005 season and the Hagerstown Suns are in the middle.

The Suns, who will play their first season as an affiliate of the New York Mets, announced their 2005 schedule for the new SAL on Wednesday.

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The SAL will feature a new scheduling look and a slight divisional realignment to go with some new and relocated affiliations and a couple of name changes to shake things up.

Hagerstown opens the 2005 season at home on April 12 against the West Virginia Power, which recently changed its name from the Charleston (W.Va.) AlleyCats. It will be the start of a seven-game homestand before the Suns head to Charleston, W.Va., to face West Virginia in the grand opening of its new stadium on April 14.

The Suns joined the Mets' organization in October after spending four years as a San Francisco Giants affiliate. The Giants moved to Augusta, Ga. The Mets were the Capital City Bombers and moved here from Columbia, S.C.

The Suns will again play a 140-game schedule, including 70 dates at Municipal Stadium. Hagerstown will be home 12 of the 20 weekends in the season. The promotional schedule will be announced at a later date.

Games played on Monday through Saturday will be played at 6:35 in April and May before switching to 7:05 on June 1, with a few special exceptions. Sunday games will be played at 1:35 p.m. for the first half of the season before moving to 5:35 in July.

The SAL's new scheduling plan will have the Suns play all the teams in the Northern Division and only two Southern Division teams - Kannapolis and Asheville, the closest teams to Hagerstown - in four-game home-and-home series. In the past, each team in the 16-team league played every other club. The Suns would play one series against each of the eight Southern teams once, four at home and four on the road.

The Northern Division is made up of West Virginia, Delmarva, Greensboro, Hickory, Lack County, Lakewood, Lexington and Hagerstown. Greensboro rejoins the Northern Division, while Kannapolis will return to the Southern Division.

Besides the Mets and the Giants, the Boston Red Sox moved from Augusta to Capital City while Charleston, S.C., left the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to join the New York Yankees and West Virginia will be affiliated with Milwaukee instead of Toronto. Greensboro changed its name from the Bats to the Grasshoppers.

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