Garden City Wind begin spring training
Marcus Sabata, general manager of the Garden City Wind, said Tuesday that he appeared to be the most popular person in Garden City.
All morning, he said, people were coming up and asking him how the Wind look this year.
“I said we don’t know. Talent-wise, we’re still evaluating. But we look good getting off the bus,” Sabata said. “These guys look athletic, and they’re big. I do like that.”
Spring training started Tuesday for the Wind, now in their third season of competition in the Pecos League. Last year, Garden City finished first in the Pecos North division with a 38-26 record. The club fell just short of making the Pecos League finals after dropping the semifinal series to the Trinidad Triggers two games to one.
Hopes are high that the Wind will continue to play strong baseball this year.
“We’ve gotta defend, that’s what we’ve gotta do. We won our side of the division last year, so that’s the expectation,” Sabata said.
First-year manager David Peterson said nothing short of a championship will do.
“That’s the ultimate goal, that’s what’s expected here every single year in Garden City. They put together the start of a tradition last season and we’re going to keep moving forward here,” Peterson said.
The Wind will open with spring training games Wednesday at Salina followed by home matchups with the Trinidad Triggers in Garden City on Thursday and Friday. Thursday’s game, which will be $1 beer night, starts at 6:30 p.m. at Clint Lightner Field. Friday, the Wind and Triggers will play at Lakin at 6:30 p.m., a first for the organization to play in that community.
Sabata said the Wind invited 29 players to spring training, nearly all of them new to the team, with outfielder Eli Roundtree the sole returner from last year. The roster will be trimmed to 22 by next Tuesday.
Sabata added that the spring training games are “basically a dress rehearsal” for the season, more for scouting than anything else.
“At this point, we’re evaluating. I know David’s put a lot of time and thought into the roster construction. We’ve got guys from all over – the Dominican Republic, Staten Island, Milwaukee, Tennessee, Florida. We’re expecting them all to contribute in some form or fashion,” Sabata said.
Following media day on May 24, the regular season kicks off with a four-game series at home against the Triggers starting on Thursday, May 25.
Peterson, from San Antonio, Texas, is no stranger to Garden City. He served as the Wind’s bullpen coach in 2015 and was assistant manager for the Salina Stockade last year.
“It’s a little bit of a transition,” Peterson said. “Last year, I served under somebody. Now it’s on me. But I’m ready for the responsibility. Most of all, I’m just so excited to return to Garden City.”
Peterson said one reason last year’s league champs, the Tucson Saguaros, were so good is they waited for teams to make a mistake and then capitalized. But they were also big and physical, he said. Peterson added that he thinks the Wind will bring a similar style.
“This is a blue collar, hard working community, and that’s how we’re building our ball club,” he said. “We’re gonna play hard every single night. We have a very physical ball club. We’re going to be able to overpower some people, steal some bases, make some first and third opportunities.”
Sabata said the organization also is very excited to host this year’s Pecos League All Star game, scheduled for July 11, and looking forward to showcasing Garden City.
For more information about the Garden City Wind, including ticket information and the season schedule, go to www.gardencitywind.com, and follow them on Facebook.