Crinella
Crinella

NORTH ADAMS -- Twelve months ago, it was easy for Frank Crinella to get John Kinne's attention on a baseball field. Now, not so much.

Kinne and Crinella forged a friendship playing shortstop and third base, respectively, for the 2013 Pittsfield Suns. Now Kinne is playing a number of positions for the North Adams Steeple Cats, while Crinella is at third base for the Valley Blue Sox of Holyoke.

"We didn't notice each other" on opening night at Joe Wolfe Field, Crinella said. "John was over at third base. I was yelling ‘Hey, nine,' and he was trying to ignore me."

As the SteepleCats and Blue Sox wrapped up the third week of the NECBL season, the two teams have already played each other three times and the Northern Division rivals will make it a fourth time here on Friday night.

"It was both great and it was a bummer," said Kinne, when asked about the game at McKenzie Field in Holyoke on June 6, when the two first played against each other.

"Me and Frank are good friends. Last summer was a lot of fun."

The start of the 2014 season hasn't been as good as the finish of 2013 was for both Kinne and Crinella.

Kinne, who played shortstop for the Suns, was seventh in the Futures league with a .323 batting average. Crinella hit .292, led his team with 21 extra-base hits and led the league with 17 doubles.

So far, Crinella is winning the stat battle. He is hitting .255 and leads the Sox with seven walks. Kinne is hitting .200 and has only four hits in 20 at-bats.

"I signed here really early and he was still deciding. He was trying to go to the Cape," said Kinne. "I was trying to get him to come so we could play together again.

"I guess we'll have to settle for playing against each other."

For Kinne, the move to North Adams was set in motion by Columbia head coach Brett Boretti.

"They thought that if I had the opportunity to play here, it would be better for my development," said Kinne. "I loved the Suns. My coaches said they wanted to see me in the NECBL. I'm lucky to be on a great team."

Crinella becomes for the Blue Sox what Kinne is for the SteepleCats -- a home-grown player. Kinne is from Great Barrington and played at Monument Mountain before going to Division I Columbia. Crinella grew up in East Longmeadow, played at Springfield Cathedral and is now at Merrimack, where he was the Northeast-10 Conference player of the year.

Crinella and another former Suns player, pitcher Harrison Paige, are both Springfield-area players who chose to stay home this summer.

"I was weighing a possible Cape option. I was down on the Cape seeing what was going to happen and I made a choice that this was the best option," Crinella said. "The Pittsfield Suns were great and it was tough to come here."

For Crinella, it was about having to make an adjustment that he wouldn't have needed to make in Pittsfield.

"I wanted to get out of my comfort zone," he said. "I kind of [wanted to], not necessarily keep climbing up a ladder and saying the NECBL is better than the FCBL, but to try and make adjustments and switch things up.

"Meeting new guys is what playing sports is all about."

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