Val­leyCats and youngest man­ager in mi­nors start sea­son tonight

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS - By Stan Hudy shudy@dig­i­tal­first­ @StanHudy on Twit­ter

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.

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