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Curtain goes up tonight for 2010 Suns

April 08, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI

HAGERSTOWN -- It's showtime for the Hagerstown Suns.

Opening Day notwithstanding, today's 6:30 p.m. game at Municipal Stadium with Hickory is important only because it allows this year's Suns to start to show if this is their time to advance as professional baseball players.

"We have some players who will have a chance to show what they can do," said Hagerstown manager Matt LeCroy, who starts his second year with the team. "Now they have their chance. They have to get out there and start doing it."

The first pitcher out to prove he belongs will be Daniel Rosenbaum, who draws the Opening Day start.

"He's a lefty and was very good last season in the Gulf Coast League," LeCroy said. "He has a good (cut fastball) and throws inside."

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For Rosenbaum, the Nationals' 22nd-round pick in last year's draft, it's an opportunity to showcase his ability while setting the tone for Hagerstown.

"I'm so excited to get the season going. I haven't pitched in front of a crowd for a while," he said. "It gives me a lot of confidence in myself because the coaches have confidence in me. I hope I can make it snowball to everyone else."

Rosenbaum was 4-1 with a 1.95 ERA at Gulf Coast, a season that turned around with a little advice.

"I was struggling a bit last year and I talked to my coordinator," Rosenbaum said. "He told me to start throwing inside. Once I started doing that, things got so much better."

The Suns have so many different layers of players trying to show their stuff.

· Hagerstown's starting outfield features three players just beyond their adolescence. Eury Perez is 19 while Destin Hood and J.P. Ramirez are barely 20. Marcus Jones, 23, who spent all last season on Hagerstown's disabled list, will be the swing player.

"The Nationals didn't want those guys going back to extended spring training and get stale," LeCroy said. "They should be here."

· The Suns' pitching staff features six players who have spent time in Hagerstown in the past. The rest of the starting rotation is returning from last season, along with Patrick Arnold, who returns to the bullpen after spending time in multiple roles last season. Former No. 1 pick and former Sun Colton Willems looks to do some relief work.

· Third baseman Steven Souza will be making his third appearance in Hagerstown and will bat third ahead of first baseman Justin Bloxom. They will join forces with Francisco Soriano at short and Jeffery Kobernus, Washington's second-round pick last year, at second.

"Souza needs to get out of this league," LeCroy said. "We got some speed. Perez and Soriano run well. This team is much more athletic, but it has youth."

The Suns, who have been together for less than a week, will be playing under the lights for the first time tonight and be facing the Crawdads from the Texas organization.

It's time for the show.

"I'd love to see a well-pitched and good defensive game," LeCroy said. "I'd like to see someone get a big hit for us. I'm excited. It's a new year and I think we will play a lot better than last year."

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