Byline: Rich Garven
WORCESTER - The Worcester Tornadoes have been a diamond in the rough and rough on the diamond in their first two seasons.
The independent league team started fast and finished strong, capping a wonderful inaugural season by winning the Can-Am League championship in 2005. You can file last season under Sophomore Slump.
Although the Tornadoes contended for a playoff spot in the first half, they finished with an overall record of 41-49. Too many errors and too few hits combined with spotty relief pitching made for many a frustrating evening at Hanover Insurance Park.
Through it all, though, manager Rich Gedman kept an even keel. He looked at a talent pool that was half full and saw it for what it was.
"(It's one thing) if I thought we were better than everybody else and lost more than we won," Gedman said last night before the Tornadoes completed a home-and-home exhibition series sweep against the Brockton Rox with a 6-5 win.
"I think with the group of guys we had last year, I don't think they were a bad group - I thought they competed very, very hard. But we didn't have the horses (to contend) and there's no shame in that."
As one would expect, the Tornadoes have revamped their roster. Most of the pitchers and catchers are back, but there will be plenty of new faces in the infield and outfield when the season gets under way tomorrow night in Quebec against the defending league champion Capitales.
The home opener is set for 7:05 p.m. on Memorial Day against the New Haven County Cutters. That's part of a week-long stand that includes a noon game Wednesday and a set of four against Quebec beginning Thursday.
So it will be a somewhat different team. Will it be a decidedly better one? Apparently.
"If you asked me on Day 1 if we're a better team this year than last year, `Absolutely,'" Gedman answered. "And that's no knock on last year's team. But I don't want them to think they're there. They seem like a good bunch of guys. We'll see."
Among the newcomers are North Shore outfield expatriates Luis Sabino and Andrew Wishy. New to the infield are third baseman Euvi Solano and second baseman Dominic Ramos, who roamed far to his right to make a tremendous diving catch on the outfield grass last night in the top of the sixth.
Among the every-day holdovers are first baseman Chris Colabello and outfielder Josh Beauregard, two of the seven players who have been with the Tornadoes since their inception. The others are pitchers Junior...