Sunday April 7, 2013

It's baseball season, and a lot of teams' seasons in our area are under way.

The Red Sox head home after today's game in Toronto to open the season at Fenway Park on Monday. Berkshire County's high schools and colleges are into their seasons.

Even Tom Conley's season at Bryant College is well under way. But he is thinking about two months from now as much as he's thinking about today, because that's when he'll begin his first season as manager of the Pittsfield Suns.

"It's exciting to see the big guys out there," he said. "It seems like summer's just around the corner."

If you were at a high school game last week, you know that summer is nowhere close to around the corner. But June 6 will be here before we know it, and Conley will be manning the third-base coaching box and running his team.

The former UMass catcher does a lot of his Suns work on Mondays, an off day for Bryant. He's been keeping an eye on what is, for the moment, an extensive roster.

"Some guys are really playing the way I think we expect them to," said Conley. "It's early and we have a lot of young guys too. It's a working roster.

"We have a large number on the roster. We did that knowing that some guys are going to fall off -- whether they're not playing as much or have an injury."

Ask Conley if there are any players on the current 34-man roster who jump out at him, and he'll point to SUNY-Cortland, where outfielder Chris Jackson is leading his team with 3 home runs, 26 runs batted in and he has a .364 batting average. Left-handed pitcher Brandon McClain is 2-0 with a 2.12 earned-run average and has 27 strikeouts to only seven walks.

How those numbers will translate at Wahconah Park is certainly an unknown.

Going into the new year, former Monument Mountain player John Kinne was the first Sun from the Berkshires. Kinne is 3 for 3 in limited playing time at Columbia. The freshman is still recovering from the Tommy John surgery that cost him his senior season at Monument.

He'll now be joined by Mike Geannelis, a former Mount Greylock athlete who spent three years in prep school and is now at the IMG Academy in Florida. Players who are out of high school but not yet in college are eligible to play in the Futures League.

The Bryant assistant said players like Geannelis could be the future of college -- and by extension -- professional baseball.

"We have a couple of guys on Bryant who did that. It seems to be that some guys are going the hockey way," said Conley. "That's how it is for hockey. They go to these academies or the private schools, and come up that way."

We still may have to get through some more frosty weather before it really feels like baseball season. But doesn't talking about it just warm things up?

Trust me. It won't be long.

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.