Bulls open home schedule with sights set on third straight Governor’s Cup
The Durham Bulls have a new manager, but the goal remains the same as they play their first home game tonight with their sights set on a third straight Governor’s Cup.
The Bulls started the season with six road games and a 2-4 record under new skipper Brady Williams. The home schedule begins Thursday night with the first of a four-game series versus the Columbus Clippers (4-3). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and will be broadcast on Buzz Sports Radio: 96.5 FM in Durham, 99.3 FM in Raleigh.
RHP Andrew Moore is scheduled to make the start for Durham opposite RHP Jefry Rodriguez for Columbus.
Fan promotions include postgame fireworks and the new Afforda-BULL Eats offer where 14 different food items will be sold at a discounted price every Thursday home game.
It will be the DBAP debut for Williams. He replaces former manager Jared Sandberg who led the Bulls to both International League championships the last two seasons but left to become the major league field coordinator for the Seattle Mariners. At only 39 years old, Williams told WRAL, “There’s going to be challenges for myself, learning to deal with an older player. A guy who’s been up and down, that’s going to be a different challenge for me.”
Williams never made it past the Double-A level as a player. Since hanging up his cleats in 2006, Williams worked his way up the Tampa Bay Rays minor league system as a manager. He spent the previous five seasons with the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits and led them to playoff appearances in 2016 and 2017. He is also the son of former Boston Red Sox manger Jimy Williams. “He’s definitely a player’s guy,” said Bulls pitcher Austin Pruitt.
The Bulls also have several players to watch, including 16 who played for Durham in the postseason last year.
Kean Wong, infielder: The reigning Team MVP is coming off a 2018 campaign in which he was named an International League Midseason and Postseason All-Star after batting .282.
Andrew Velazquez, infielder: Led the International League with 29 stolen bases in 2018, despite appearing in just 117 of the team’s 140 games. Hit a home run in the first at-bat of the 2019 season and set a career high in RBI’s with five on April 4th.
Jake Cronenworth, infielder: Named the International League’s Batter of the Week. Over the season’s first four days, the infielder led the IL with a .722 batting average (13-for-18), 13 hits, five doubles, eight runs scored, 18 total bases and a .737 on-base percentage. The team’s shortstop during its 2018 Governors’ Cup run.
Jake Faria, RHP: Appeared in 31 games for the Bulls over the last three seasons and 33 games for Tampa Bay since the 2017 campaign.
Colin Poche, LHP: Posted a 1.08 ERA in 28 appearances with the Bulls a year ago. Acquired midseason via trade. Struck out 110 batters in just 66 innings to earn him MiLB’s Reliever of the Year award.
Brent Honeywell, RHP: The Rays’ No. 1 pitching prospect opens the season on the Injured List while recovering from Tommy John surgery that made him miss the 2018 season.
The Bulls also welcome Quinton McCracken to the coaching staff. McCracken played his college ball at Duke and then had a 13-year MLB career, which included three with the Rays in their first three seasons as a franchise (1998-2000).