Grizzlies, Rawhide Prepare for Opening Day

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Opening Day for the Fresno Grizzlies is just two days away and stick with Action News for coverage on Thursday from AM Live all the way to the first pitch in the evening. (KFSN)

Opening Day for the Fresno Grizzlies is just two days away and stick with Action News for coverage on Thursday from AM Live all the way to the first pitch in the evening.

Crews laid out the tarp at Chukchansi Park in Downtown Fresno, only to take it off a few hours later in the early afternoon hours. The field is ready to go and this new look Grizzlies team is led by manager Tony DeFrancesco. Remember, Fresno is now affiliated with the Houston Astros after 17 seasons with the San Francisco Giants. And DeFrancesco spent a lot of years in Sacramento and even became the River Cats manager for a short period of time.

"And I know they're hungry. I know they want a winner. I think if we win, they're going to come out. And they're going to pack this place. They proved it up in Sacramento. We won for years. They came out. We led the league in attendance for years. And that's what I'm hoping to bring here, some fun and excitement to Downtown Fresno." said DeFrancesco.

The Grizzlies' Opening Day roster includes arguably the best collection of talent this franchise has ever seen. It's hard to argue the 2010 squad with Belt, Posey and Bumgarner, but 7 of the top 30 Houston Astros prospects will start their year in Fresno. #14 on that list is outfielder Preston Tucker. The 24-year-old made the move from AA to AAA OKC last summer. Grizzlies also have guys with solid major league experience. Guys like starter Dan Straily. The Righty is looking for a bounce-back year after a rough 2014 season in the bigs that saw him start in Oakland and get traded to Chicago. Then Chicago to Houston.

"I'm extremely excited. I played here once here last year. And the crowd was great. I love the atmosphere. I love the ballpark. And I think the fans are going to be excited about the team we have. We've got a ton of offense. We have great pitching. I think we're going to roll off a couple of wins this year," said Tucker.

"I think for the first month, I think you really figure out what you have that season. What you have going for you. What works well. What doesn't work well. You add adrenaline, fans, ballpark. Then add a real climate, different climate. And you just kind of, it brings out the best in people." added Straily.

Down in the South Valley, Visalia is looking to make it three straight postseason appearances. The Rawhide enter the 2015 campaign as defending north division champions. As you might expect, their roster is much younger than Fresno's. The California League could see Visalia back in the championship round. Rawhide fell just short in 2014, when they lost to Lancaster in game 5 of the league finals.

Names to remember? Breland Almadova, Blayne Weller, and Joey Krehbiel.



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