Tim Hulett will spend most of this week as somewhat of a baseball magician as he and his staff stuff three weeks’ worth of training into three days of minicamp.
As it is each summer in the Northwest League, he hopes some of that magic will translate onto the field this season.
After the roster began to take shape on Monday, camp began Tuesday as Hulett and the Spokane Indians, the Texas Rangers’ short-season Class A affiliate, took the field at Avista Stadium for the first time in preparation for Friday’s season opener against the Vancouver Canadians.
The team will spend the next three days taking batting practice, working on fundamentals and showing the coaching staff what they can bring to the team.
“We don’t get a lot of time to teach what we would normally cover in those weeks of spring training, so it’s all crammed together,” said Hulett, who is entering his sixth season as Indians manager. “We are trying to see each new guy and get a feel for them and what they can do.
“It’s great to get back out there and see some of the new faces and some of the old faces and get started on another season.”
Among the old faces are eight returning players from last season’s Indians roster, including right-handed pitcher John Kukuruda, who will start on the mound Friday night. Joining the returning players are 11 chosen by the Rangers in this year’s first-year player entry draft.
“I can’t tell you right now what we’ll develop into,” Hulett said. “Sometimes you can look at a team and say, ‘Wow, we’ve got a lot of speed, or we’re going to be great defensively.’
“Offhand, it looks like we can swing the bat pretty well and we’ve got a good balance of right- and left-handed guys that are solid defensively. On the mound, we have some power and some guys with good arms and things look very nice.”
The Indians open their 2012 NWL campaign by hosting a five-game homestand with Vancouver, beginning with Friday’s opener at 6:30 p.m., which can be seen live on SWX.