PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield Suns had only one day of practice before the start of the Futures League season. But fourth-year manager Tom Conley said that despite the lack of practice time, he likes what he sees.
"They look excited and ready to go," said Conley during an interview in his Wahconah Park office Tuesday afternoon. "A lot of the guys were here really early today. We went out [for practice] at one o'clock, and there were a lot of guys here at 12. They were anxious to go.
"We have a lot of young guys. They're excited to play."
Conley and coaches Matt Gedman and Chris Barbarotta were going to put the Suns through two days of practices, but Monday's storms postponed the first practice.
So after one day of work, the Suns will board a bus today for the season opener against the Torrington Titans in Connecticut. The home opener is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. against Bristol at Wahconah Park.
Conley said that Eastern Connecticut right-hander Jordan Munchin will get the ball as the opening-night starter Wednesday. Munchin was 5-1 with a 2.84 earned-run average for a team that went to the NCAA Division III tournament.
Munchin pitched seven innings and gave up two unearned runs to SUNY-Oswego in a 3-2, first-round loss in the tourney. He gave up two hits to Oswego's Eric Hamilton, who will be a Suns teammate. Hamilton was not at practice, as he was attending a Major League Baseball draft camp. He should be in uniform tonight.
"Matt just saw [Munchin] last week in the regional," said Conley. "He throws the ball really well, mid to upper 80s. He throws a lot of strikes."
As Conley said last week, veteran Jamin McCann will get the ball for the home opener Thursday night.
After that, R.J. Hall of Tufts will start Friday, Brandon Shileikis of Quinnipiac will go on Saturday at home against Nashua and Austin Hanson from the University of Oklahoma will pitch at Wachusett Sunday.
The Suns added a new outfielder, signing Munchin's Eastern Connecticut teammate Alex Zachary. The left-handed hitting outfielder was named to the American Baseball Coaches Association's All-American third team.
The center fielder was the only outfielder from New England named an All-American. He transferred from Division II Mars Hills, and hit .283 while leading Eastern in hits (63), runs (43), home runs (10), slugging percentage (.669) and stolen bases (11 of 12).
Conley said Zachary will play in the outfield and at first base.
The Pittsfield manager said that originally, Hanson was going to be first in line to be the Suns' closer.
"His coach wanted him to start," said Conley.
Oklahoma's coach is former Boston College coach Pete Hughes, whose son Thomas will play a middle infield position for the Suns. According to Conley, Thomas Hughes was used as a defensive replacement by the Sooners and did not make an error all season.
The one difficult thing for the Suns when they start is that they only have one catcher in camp. Justin Glover from Eckerd is the lone Suns catcher right now. Jake Goodreau, who will be attending Boston College in the fall, is still tied up with his Southwick High School team in the Western Massachusetts tournament.
"I've been on the phone a lot recently, trying to add a catcher," said the Suns manager. "There are a couple of leads, but none that can be here right away. I'm hoping I can still get one for [tonight]."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.