Bowers expecting big things for Capitals

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:00 PM ET

Brent Bowers can appreciate the importance of putting together a winning ball club.

Especially this season, and in this market.

With the Edmonton Oilers taking over the city's Golden League baseball club, changing the name from Cracker-Cats to Capitals and attempting to make it viable, Bowers is responsible for fielding a product worth watching.

"I'm trying to make this team more about speed than power," Bowers said yesterday as the Capitals launched their season-ticket campaign and announced their training camp roster.

"I think it's easier putting pressure on the catcher, pitcher and defence with speed than waiting for the home run.

"Leading off for us this year will be a guy who led the league in stolen bases last year in Marcus Nettles. Then we made a trade with the team in Reno and got the second-fastest guy in the league, who had 44 steals.

"When you have those two guys at the top of the order, you have something special."

The Capitals will open their training camp May 11 at Telus Field. Two days prior to that, they'll host open tryouts.

The home opener is scheduled for May 21 against the expansion Victoria Seals.

The Edmonton club was purchased by Daryl Katz earlier this year and is now being operated by the Oilers.

For the past four seasons little attention was paid to the Cracker-Cats. The team was owned by American businessman Dan Orlich, who made more news for front office problems then the on-field product.

"I think the biggest thing is knowing that the Oilers have taken over," Bowers said.

"The second is just about winning ball games. If word gets around town that we have built a pretty good ball club, we have a good coaching staff and have good players that are willing to come out every day and do well, I think the word is going to spread.

"The Oilers are a very professional organization and that's what we expect this team to be."

The city hasn't embraced professional baseball since the Triple-A Trappers left following the 2004 Pacific Coast League season.

The hope for the new Capitals management group is that they find a fan base for independent baseball, with a roster of players unaffiliated with Major League teams.

"Every time I've called the Oilers for anything they've told me that they want to do the best for me to try to put together a winning team," Bowers said.

"That kind of makes my job a lot easier.

"I was kind of doing other things last year and I kind of forgot about what was going on the field because I was worried about other stuff.

"Just knowing that these guys are backing me up and that all I have to worry about is winning games makes it a lot easier."

Bolstered by a lineup that includes pitcher Louis Pote, who played for the Trappers and won a World Series with the Anaheim Angels in 2002, Bowers is confident his team will be competitive.

The roster also includes players who took part in the recent World Baseball Classic.

"When I first came to play independent ball, I didn't know much about it," Bowers said.

"Now I know a lot. There are going to be scouts out all summer, and it's a way for these guys to get back.

"Just knowing that four guys signed (big league contracts) last year is the reason a lot of players want to come back this year."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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