The Herts Raptors start their season this Sunday on the road at the Leicester Two Sox, who, in a Houston Astros-like move, have switched to the BBF Single-A League over from the AA Midlands. We had a chance to put some questions to Raptors Manager, Arnie Longboy.
We are just days away from Opening Day. Do you feel ready or has the bad weather in March affected preparations?
Arnie Longboy: Less than ideal weather is something that baseball players here just have to take as a given. So on one hand all of our competitors have faced the same challenge. That said I hope the indoor training we’ve had, especially with our strength and conditioning coach Tony, will prove to be a competitive advantage for all Herts teams.
What are your main goals for this season?
Arnie Longboy: Our goal is similar to last years. Field a competitive team and have fun in the process. We’ve also had some players move up so I’d like them to further develop and see them move up in the ranks as they progress with their baseball prowess.
What win-loss percentage would be seen as a successful season for the team and is it realistic to expect your team to reach the playoffs or even challenge for the title?
Arnie Longboy: I want all of the team to expect a winning season and a goal is always to make the playoffs. We almost did it last year and want to challenge for the title this year.
Will the entry of the Herts Ravens in the AAA League affect your team’s chances this season by diluting the strength of the Herts rosters across a larger number of teams?
Arnie Longboy: Herts is blessed to have the numbers to field 5 teams! I think it’s a result of the efforts we’ve made in trying to grow the sport in our region.
Who are the players we should look out for this year?
Arnie Longboy: We’ve again recruited a few of the junior club members so I expect much from them. But some of the veterans returning will provide the wisdom from their experience. It should make for a great team dynamic.
Which of your opponents in the league are likely to be the biggest challengers for the national title?
Arnie Longboy: The Eagles will be a formidable team and as their manager now has a year’s experince under his belt I expect that team to go far. Given we play them twice I think those will be the games to watch for our Herts fan base.