December 24, 2003
Smaller changes for Sox
By Matt O'Donnell/Appeal-Democrat
Summer baseball at Bryant Field seems to involve considerable change every year from leagues to ownership to player changes.
The 2004 Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox won't be a replica of the 2003 club, but change is expected to come in small doses.
Co-owners Don McCullough and Bob Bavasi are back. Manager Brad Peek will return. The organization will play in the California Coastal Collegiate League again.
Minor changes will occur with the schedule and player recruiting, Bavasi said.
"One of the biggest things for us is getting started earlier," Bavasi said. "We got such a late start last year because it took a while to finish the lease deal with the city."
The team extended the lease for the use of Bryant Field for at least three more years in September.
Peek has been involved with talking to potential players in the offseason and is expected to send out National Baseball Congress contracts in January. He'll also attend a college baseball coaches' convention in San Antonio, Tex., next month.
"There is a trade show, seminars," Peek said. "Basically, it's a good chance to network."
Bavasi and Peek said they're targeting more out-of-state players than a year ago. They do expect to have Northern California players on the roster as well, but said those athletes sometimes have more distractions.
That could avoid situations like last year where Peek was forced to fill in with makeshift lineups and pick up players for a day or two.
"If they live closer, sometimes they have family obligations," Bavasi said. "That's OK, but we're also trying to run this like a pro ballclub. I think generally we're looking for players who are here for the summer and are staying with host families."
Peek said he's talked to players from schools like San Jose State, Western Michigan and Grand Canyon.
"Last year we started late, but you don't want to get your whole roster set too early either," Peek said. "You want to be able to see some players too."
Peek said he's close to finalizing the schedule. The Gold Sox are expected to start play on May 28, a Friday, although series play would generally still run Thursday through Sunday.
Yuba-Sutter only played four road dates a year ago, but that is expected to increase to about 10, Bavasi said. All of those games would be CCCL contests.
"Our mission is still to play a majority of games at home, but we realize that to be part of the league, we need to travel some too," Bavasi said.
To try and make the schedule more attractive, some opponents with smaller rosters or less pitching depth will be only invited for two games, instead of four.
Peek also said he's been in contact with many of the 2003 players, including Sonoma State standouts Darren Sack and Tom Everidge, who are interested in coming back. Sack and Everidge could also be drafted and sign with Big League organizations in June.