Red Deer Stags co-manager Davin Gulbransen usually takes a cautious approach to the opening of the Sunburst Baseball League season.
But that’s in the past.
Gulbransen, who handles coaching duties with Dan Zinger, couldn’t keep the excitement out of his voice as he discussed the team’s 2009 roster.
“This is the most excited I’ve been in some time, at least looking at our roster on paper,” he said.
“We’re two deep in every position. In fact we didn’t’ even hold open tryouts this season.”
The Stags have a solid roster of 14 veterans. Add four new faces, plus the possibility of Marshall MacDonald returning, and the Stags roster is complete.
“Our Achilles Heel in the past has been in the infield, in that we just didn’t have the depth,” said Gulbransen, who is the team’s top pitcher.
“In fact we’d end up using pitchers in the infield. This year that isn’t the case, at least it looks that way. We should have depth in the infield and outfield, which is a breath of fresh air.”
If MacDonald, who is attending the University of Dayton, does return he’ll be used at first and third base. However, his return is still up in the air as he’s trying out for the independen league Calgary Vipers.
Shortstop Curtis Beaudoin of Cereal, who attends the Prairie Baseball Academy (PBA) in Lethbridge, will help solidify the infield while the outfield received a boost with the addition of Drew Taddia of Didsbury, who was playing independent league baseball in Palm Springs.
Other new faces are pitcher Chad Marchant of Edmonton and catcher Richard Northcott, who was with the midget Braves last season and is at PBA. The Stags did lose three regulars off last year’s roster in Jason Fraser, Ryan Carr and Andrew Touchette.
“But the new guys make up for them,” said Gulbransen.
“Taddia is a real surprise addition as he just called and asked about playing. He’ll make up for losing Fraser.”
The Stags will have a solid pitching staff, led by Gulbransen, Marchant, Aaron Tweet, Nick Ryan and Jordan Cleland. Beaudoin, Shane Black, Rob Boik and James Carr are also listed on their roster as pitchers.
“You can never have enough pitching,” said Gulbransen. “Our schedule has us playing 22 games in 30 days in June, so we need all the arms we can get.”
The outfield will be anchored by centre-fielder Nate Benke with Kevin Curran, Black and Tweet also able to patrol the outfield.
Dan Chappel, Shaun Connor, Jamie Duncan, Travis Guynup, Brandon Mechefske, Zinger and Byron Whitford are all infielders.
The Stags open league play May 21 against their rivals, the Red Deer Riggers.
The Stags, Riggers and Calgary Redbirds play in the league’s South Division with the St. Albert Tigers, St. Albert (Junior) Tabbies, the defending provincial champion Fort Saskatchewan Athletics, the Edmonton Angels and the newly formed Edmonton Rockies make up the North Division.
“I don’t know anything about the Rockies, but I do know the league has a lot of parody,” said Gulbransen.
“There are no easy games, which is the way you want it. It forces you to play every game and you’re ready for the provincials.”
Contact Danny Rode at email@example.com