This afternoon was Media Day for the reigning Northern Division champion Wilmington Blue Rocks. At the press conference were manager Jamie Quirk, starter Zach Lovvorn, and first baseman Ryan O’Hearn.
Right out of the gate, Quirk named Lovvorn (a returnee) his Opening Night starter against Potomac (which is Thursday night, weather permitting).
Lovvorn said that he wants to build off last season. “It was a pretty up-and-down kind of road for me last season, but just learn from it and improve.”
Quirk went on to name the rest of his five-man rotation: returnee Pedro Fernandez in Game 2 (Friday night), lefty Matt Tenuta on Saturday night, returnee Ashton Goudeau on Sunday afternoon, and lefty Colin Rodgers on Monday night (against Carolina).
While Quirk said his lineup is set, he has not let the players know yet, so we will just have to wait until Thursday. But he did announce O’Hearn as his three-hole hitter.
“My rule this year, coming into the season is not to even think about the ballpark,” O’Hearn said when asked about his return to Wilmington. “That’s the main thing, I don’t won’t to hear anything about the ballpark. I think I finished the year strong, in the playoffs especially, and that’s my main goal. Just build off of that. So if I can do that, I think we’re in good shape.”
I asked Quirk about his outfield, which returns three: Alfredo Escalera, Brandon Downes (though he was only in Wilmington for the final regular season game and the postseason), and Elier Hernandez. Quirk said that those three will see the bulk of the time in the outfield, with 2015 draft pick Roman Collins (.292 with 36 walks compared to 34 strikeouts in 267 at-bats with rookie level Idaho Falls) rotating in. Those four will also see time as the DH.
Does it help that three of his four outfielders (plus returnee Robert Pehl) have already had experience at spacious Frawley Stadium? “It does,” Quirk said.
You can watch the entire press conference below: