Titans Notebook: Opening Day, Susi gets the call, a long trip and a new arrival
TORRRINGTON - The prep work is over and it's time to see if training camp has paid off as the Torrington Titans get set to open the 2015 Futures Collegiate Baseball League season on Thursday night at Fuessenich Park.
The Titans will host the Pittsfield Suns in the season opener and will be looking to get off to a fast start as they begin their quest to get back to the playoffs.
Torrington plays three of its first four games at home, hosting Brockton and Bristol over the weekend after a trip to Pittsfield for another matchup with the Suns on Friday.
For the second season the Titans have brought players in well ahead of the season opener for a training camp that both builds camaraderie and allows the coaching staff to work with players and see what they have. The early word is that there are more bats with some pop this season and a wealth of strong arms on the pitching staff.
"The biggest thing I have seen is that we have depth both with our pitching and position players," Titans manager Dan McNamara said. "Picking an opening day lineup was not an easy task. It was a lot harder than last year, the guys are really close in talent."
With that deep roster comes the challenge of keeping players sharp and getting a chance to see what everyone brings to the table, especially once the games start counting. It appears that McNamara won't be afraid to mix and match with his lineups in the early going of the season.
"One thing you're probably going to see in the first two weeks is a lot of players coming in and out and rotating and platooning," McNamara said. "It's a challenge, but we have so much depth that I don't see it as a negative. It's a positive for us because I feel like whoever we put in there is going to be able to do the job.
SUSI ON THE HILL: Returning Titan Brett Susi will get the call to start on Opening Night. Coming off a strong sophomore season at Central Connecticut, Susi is looking forward to making his FCBL return on Thursday.
"It's an honor and I can't wait," Susi said of getting the ball for the Titans' opener. "I have a little experience, how the league plays, how the wood bat plays. The experience is definitely a help. It's comforting to have it but you also know you have to go out and compete as hard as you can."
With it being the first game of the season, there won't be anything to go on as far as knowing what the Pittsfield lineup is like. Susi does benefit from the fact that he has been here before and he'll try and use that to his advantage on Thursday night.
"You have to attack early and feel things out the first time through the lineup," Susi said. "After that you just make the adjustments you need to make the next time through. As the season goes on the scouting reports start to come in but the first week or two you're just feeling things out."
With the Titans getting in their last workout of the preseason on Wednesday, you got the feel that everyone was ready to get things going and start playing for keeps.
"My arm feels good, I'm ready to go and the team looks great," Susi said. "We have a couple big bats and have looked good in the field. I think we are going to have a good team and surprise a lot of people this season."
A LONG WAY FROM HOME: Titans outfielder Tyler Bindi has the distinction of being the player that is the furthest from home. Bindi, who just finished his freshman year at Saint Mary's, is from San Jose, California and is 3,030 miles from home.
It seems like a long way to go to play ball but the FCBL has built a good reputation and players are looking for a place to get reps and compete.
"My coach was just trying to put me in a good league and this was a good one for me," Bindi said.
Bindi is hoping it's a league where he gets a lot of game action. He redshirted this past year as a freshman so while he worked out and practiced, both with the team and on his own, Bindi is a little light on game reps.
"I'm looking to get back in the swing of things, playing since I haven't played in a while and getting better.," Bindi said. "I didn't know I was going to redshirt. I was looking forward to playing so when coach told me I took it pretty hard but I thnk I made the most of it."
This summer, Binidi will look to make the most of his experience after going through a college season where he didn't see any game action.
"I'm a base stealer so I want to get back to doing that. I haven't run the bases in a while. Live at-bats are big, seeing balls in the outfield will be important too," he said.
If nothing else, at least Bindi has branched out a bit geographically and ventured a little further out from the Golden State.
"I've been to Arizona before but that's about it," Bindi said. "It's a lot different here."
WELCOME ABOARD: Wednesday was the first day in town for catcher Cody Doyle, but the Avon native had a good reason for reporting late, he was in the NCAA Tournament with Sacred Heart.
After a slow start to the season, the Hearts got things going and eventually put a 1-14 start behind them and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament by winning the Northeast Conference Tournament.
"It was a tough start but we picked it up at the end of the season, finished third in our conference and got hot at the right time," Doyle said. "We won the conference tournament and got to go to a regional in the NCAA Tournament which was a fun experience."
Doyle, who went to Avon Old Farms, played in 35 games as a freshman and worked his way into the lineup more and more as the season went on. He had a strong performance in Sacred Heart's final game of the season, going 4-for-5 with two RBI in a loss to Stony Brook in the NCAA Tournament.
"I think I was lucky as a freshman to get so much time," Doyle said. "I was splitting time and having a good season and it was fun down the stretch. Overall it was a good experience for me."
NOTES: This year's Titans are said to have more power than last season's squad, but only time will tell if that is true. If it is, look for catcher Nick Garland to be leading the way. Word is that Garland hit six home runs in a recent BP session. ... Only two Titans are from West of the Mississippi, Bindi and pitcher Kyle Dominy who is from Phoenix, Arizona and pitches for Oberlin. ... Susi made 10 starts for the Titans last season and faced the Suns once.