Beloit Snappers open 2014 campaign Thursday
BELOIT--For the second year in a row, the Beloit Snappers will open the season in less-than-ideal conditions.
Temperatures in the upper 30s with rain or snow showers are expected to greet the team when it opens the Class A Midwest League season Thursday night at Pohlman Field against the Burlington Bees.
Yet not even the frigid forecast can spoil the start of a new season, according to first-year Beloit coach Rick Magnante.
“The cold might change how you approach the game, but it doesn’t change our preparation or hide the excitement that each one of the players has,” Magnante. “They had a good spring and are looking forward to starting.
“Let’s face it. The game remains the same no matter what. It’s the environment that changes.”
The 66-year-old Magnante has spent the last 12 seasons with the Oakland A’s organization—Beloit’s major league affiliate—including the last three as the manager of the Vermont Lake Monsters of the New York Penn League. This will be the first season that Magnante has coached a team for a full season. Previously, he was either a scout or the coach of a short-season team.
Magnante said there is a big philosophical difference between coaching in the New York Penn League and the Midwest League.
“The short season is more of a transitional time,” Magnante said. “Players are making the transition to the professional level on a day-to-day basis.
“This year, it’s more of a growth year where things are done at a fundamental level. We want to improve the skill set and develop those skills.”
Beloit’s roster features several players that Magnante coached last year at Vermont, along with a couple of holdovers from last year’s Beloit team. The Snappers
Magnante believes pitching will need to carry the Snappers early on. Beloit has a deep and talented staff, with a rotation that includes Dylan Covey, Oakland’s sixth-round draft pick last year.
“We’re going to have to build on that foundation,” Magnante said of his pitching staff. “We set goals and have priorities for this team, and if we’re going to have expectations of winning, it’s going to have to start with our pitching.
“We also have to do a better job of catching and fielding the ball. The cold weather certainly affects the game, and those elements factor into performance and focus. That’s something we’ve really stressed.”