Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
The Sonoma Stompers officially began Spring Training on Saturday morning at Peterson Field, opening camp up for 33 players looking to become members of the team for the 2015 season. The day began with a team meeting called by manager Fehlandt Lentini and general manager Theo Fightmaster, who talked about the importance of playing for the organization and what it means to the city of Sonoma that the Stompers are back for another season of professional baseball this summer.
The players then ran through numerous defensive drills before breaking up into batting practice groups, where many players put on quite the impressive display. A few balls even ended up leaving the yard, including one hit by the returning Joel Carranza, who set a league record in the Pacific Association for the most home runs hit in a season in 2014.
Nine players who were a part of the organization last year are back in camp this season. That includes Eric Schwieger, who signed just before the start of Spring Training and joins Erik Gonsalves, Jesse Garcia and Mike Jackson, Jr. in the group of returning pitchers. The 6'8" lefty was terrific last year for the Stompers, going 5-5 with a 3.74 ERA in 18 appearances, including 10 starts.
Carranza leads a stellar group of returning infielders in 2015. Utility man TJ Gavlik is expected to get the lion's share of time at the keystone this season, but can also play at both third base and shortstop. Also looking to return to form this year is Sonoma native Tommy Lyons. The 2008 Sonoma Valley High School graduate underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entirety of the 2014 season, but is working hard to make it back at some point in 2015, aiming for a return sometime before the end of the first half.
Also back for 2015 is Matt Hibbert, who is expected to be one of the starting outfielders alongside Lentini. Returning Gold Glove-winning catcher Andrew Parker is expected to join the team for Sunday's workout, joining newcomer Billy Gonzalez and former Vallejo Admirals catcher Isaac Wenrich behind the dish. Wenrich signed with the team on Friday.
The team is expected to have a couple of exhibition games next week beginning on Monday, including an exhibition game against a team of inmates from San Quentin State Prison on Thursday. Opening Night is set for Monday, June 1 at 6 p.m. when the Stompers host the Pittsburg Diamonds.
Tickets are available at www.StompersBaseball.com or at our Fan Shop, located at 234 West Napa Street in downtown Sonoma.