Baseball signals spring is here

Apr. 08, 2013 @ 05:05 PM

Yes, the temperature is likely, finally, to top 80 degrees this week. Flowers are blooming; trees are beginning to leaf out. After a March that was one of the coldest ever, we’re enjoying some pleasant days – although this being Piedmont North Carolina, they may quickly transition to uncomfortably hot days with barely a chance to adjust.

But the surest sign that spring is here came last night on the southern edge of downtown Durham.

The Bulls are back.

Monday night’s home opener was the third game for the Bulls, who started the season soggily on the road.  There’s something special, though, about the season’s first game in the exquisite Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

The great thing about the first days of the season is that every team still can dream.  As spring turns to summer, some teams, inevitably, will begin to see the number in the L column grow higher. The weaknesses in the pitching rotation will be inescapable or the mediocre hitting in the middle of the batting order will become gloomily obvious. 

But this week, the season’s full of hope for every team.

The Bulls this year have every reason to believe they’ll return to post-season play and perhaps even to seize another championship. Bull’s fans are accustomed to success – the team won five straight International League South Division championships until failing to secure a playoff berth last season.

The 2013 Bulls have Charlie Montoya, who guided them to those five division championships, back as manager for the seventh year. And he has a good bit of talent on his roster.

Five of his players are among parent club Tampa Bay’s top 10 prospects.  “Our lineup and our staff seem stacked,” outfielder Brandon Guyer, who has taken some swings in the big leagues, said last week. “We have to go out and play as a team, which I have full confidence we will do.”

So do we – or at least, we hope that’s true. In any event, we look forward to the coming months and watching the most famous franchise in Minor League Baseball, right here in Durham.