VALLEYCATS READY TO ANSWER TO BELL
ValleyCats and youngest manager in minors start season tonight
TROY, N.Y. » When the first pitch is delivered Friday night at Joe Bruno Stadium there will be a sigh of relief from a multitude of Tri- City ValleyCat players as it is proof that it all wasn’t a dream, they are truly professional baseball players.
The Houston Astros short-season Class A ball club roster will be filled with 2018 draft picks, the big league club’s overall No. 1 pick Seth Beer, along with a host of other players drafted in earlier years, some signed as free agents, but all of the them with some-
thing to prove.
That includes first-year manager and the youngest manager in Major League Baseball’s minor leagues, Jason Bell.
Bell was part of the Class A Quad Cities champion River
Bandits last year and takes over as the ValleyCats ninth manager this year, taking over for Morgan Ensberg who was promoted to manage the Class A Advances
Buies Creek Astros.
The 28-year- old skipper said he too would have jitters heading into opening night.
“Just a little bit, I think everyone has those, but I think if you don’t have them a little bit I don’t know if you’re human,” Jason Bell said. “I think everyone has
that the first day, I think even big leaguers for the most part, first day, but I think that’s what makes the sports world so special.
He was able to experience a test- run as part of Wednesday’s Education Day exhibition game against the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League’s Albany Dutchmen, including a 6-1 win.
“It’s been great just getting adjusted to the city. The first day was a long travel day for everybody, but I felt yesterday we had a pretty good workout and had a good exhibition game today to kind of get everyone adjusted to how things roll here.
He doesn’t see his age as a disadvantage, but an advantage with the young players, many getting their first taste of professional baseball.
“Since I am closer to them in age and I kind of grew up in a generation with them in a generation of iPhones, iPads, computers and I think it helps me teach them, especially with being with a very analytical organization,” Bell said. “We do a lot with video, numbers and I feel like it’s a really good way for them to learn when it’s translated properly. Going through that same type of childhood with all those electronics has been beneficial for me with them.”
While being part of the same generation, Bell still has the final say with the in-game decisions and said he can reach the players in that managerial role.
“It’s showing by example. I’m really detail oriented, so if I want them to
be detail oriented I have to show them that,” Bell said. “With my preparation, I like to get here early; I like to do things the right way.
“I feel like I’ve had a lot of good people in my corner that have helped me grow as my coaching career has gone on the last few years and I think the people in our organization have also really helped me kind of adjust. Everybody was once a first-time manager, so everybody can relate to this, those first feelings.”
Just as the fans will need a program to get to know this year’s edition of the ValleyCats, Bell will be challenged and quickly learn the strengths and weaknesses of his roster.
“It’s getting adjusted to how to use the pitchers, we have certain ways, which guys are supposed to pitch, but kind of get them in the proper order, give them enough time.” Bell said. “In extended spring training it’s kind of mapped out a little bit easier, so I think an exhibition game like today ( Wednesday) really helped us get that under control.”
The ninth ValleyCats skipper already has a buzz about him and the word used most often by his players is ‘Fun.’
“I feel like sometimes we forget that this is a game,” Bell said. “It’s important and it’s a lot of pressure, but if we take the fun out of it, we don’t perform our best.
“I think if you can have a fun atmosphere where you are playing hard and expect a lot out of the players I think you can get a lot out of them too.”
Tri-City ValleyCat Kyle Davis holds up on a pitch against the Albany Dutchmen during an exhibition contest Wednesday at Joe Bruno Stadium. Davis is one of the ValleyCats returning veterans.
Tri-City catcher Oscar Camps is new to the ValleyCats, but familiar to professional baseball, playing last year with the Houston Astros Greenville Astros club.