Relief pitcher Luis Pollorena joined the Spokane Indians early last August, just as the team was gearing up to challenge for the Northwest League’s North Division second-half title.
Pollorena will be with the Indians from Day One this season, starting at 6:30 tonight with the first of five games against the Eugene Emeralds at Avista Stadium.
The difference in his arrival time is huge, Pollorena said. Or, rather, not so huge.
“It’s being able to get the right size of clothes,” Pollorena said Wednesday after the Indians’ second workout at Avista. “Last year I got the big clothes.”
How Pollorena and the Indians fit into the NWL race will be revealed during a 76-game season that’s again split into two halves. Last season, the Indians’ first-half divisional hopes were damaged by a 1-6 start. In the second half, Spokane held or was tied for the division lead for 10 days and nearly caught Everett in the final weekend.
“… Now we start with a 0-0 record,” Pollorena said. “It’s brand new from here, so we’ll see what happens.”
Spokane itself is brand new for Jose Trevino, who mainly played third base and catcher at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but is penciled in as the Indians’ second baseman.
Trevino’s bags went missing for 24 hours after his flight to Spokane, but that was all old news Wednesday as he took extra fielding practice to prepare for his new role.
“It’s a really beautiful place, that’s all I know,” said the Texas Rangers’ sixth-round selection from last week’s Major League Baseball draft. “It’s really nice out here. It’s way different from Texas.”
Catcher Marcus Greene and outfielder Saquan Johnson are Indians returners – a third-year returner in Johnson’s case.
“Anything in professional baseball is tough,” Johnson said. “But it’s a good environment to play around. Fans are going to support you, as long as you do what you’re supposed to do.”
“It’s a really good place for baseball, just the environment here, all the fans that support you and the coaching staff here,” Greene said.
Manager Tim Hulett is the ultimate returner, coming back to Spokane for his eighth season. Hulett is set to manage his 543rd game on June 24, which will break the franchise record set by Harry Ostediek (1910-13).
Hulett led the Indians to their eighth NWL title during his second season in 2008. His overall record in Spokane is 265-266, including 38-38 last season.
“One of the comments, one of the statements from us is: simple baseball,” Hulett said. “Execute the simple parts of the game and we’ll win.”
The Indians have a favorable opening schedule, with 10 of their first 13 games at home. Ten of their first 21 games are against Eugene, which will host the NWL All-Star Game on Aug. 5.
The Vancouver Canadians, one of Spokane’s division rivals, have won the last three NWL championships. The Indians’ first road series will be at Vancouver, Wednesday through next Friday.
Spokane has played in the league since 1983.