Durham Bulls | Season opener at Norfolk, 7:05 p.m.

Durham Bulls feature stacked lineup heading into opening day

csmith@newsobserver.comApril 4, 2013 

  • Opening series

    At Norfolk: Thursday 7:05 p.m., Friday 7:05 p.m., Saturday 7:05 p.m., Sunday 1:05 p.m.

    Radio: WDNC-620

    Home opener

    vs. Gwinnett Braves

    Date: Monday

    Time: 6:05 p.m. (Gates open at 5 p.m.)

    Ticket prices: $5.99 - $23.99

    Opening pitch will be thrown out by Mike Potts, North Carolina State Trooper who was shot and severely injured in the line of duty.

    Fireworks show will begin at the conclusion of the game.

— For a team that is constantly replenishing its roster with young stars, the Tampa Bay Rays might have outdone themselves this season.

In turn, the Durham Bulls might be trotting out one of their most dynamic rosters in years thanks to stars from last season like 24-year-old right-hander Chris Archer and new acquisitions like 22-year-old outfielder Wil Myers.

After being named the 2012 minor league player of the year by multiple publications including Baseball America and USA Today, Myers was traded to the Rays from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis.

“It’s very exciting to be ready for opening day, I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time,” Myers said. “I’m very comfortable. Coming into spring training, a lot of the guys were very welcoming and all the coaches were great to me.”

Myers will spearhead the Bulls lineup to open the season after finishing last year with a .314 average, 37 home runs and 109 RBIs at Class AA and Class AAA.

Myers has been working during the offseason with the Rays and hopes to continue last season’s success with both the Bulls and the Rays.

“I don’t want to say I feel any pressure,” Myers said. “I just look at this as a new challenge for myself. I’m just ready to come out and show what I can do.”

While Myers is the most captivating position player heading into the season for the Bulls, he is surrounded in the lineup by speed or power at nearly every position.

Speed will be provided by infielders like former 2008 No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham and Hak-Ju Lee, who will play at the Class AAA for the first time after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs two seasons ago in the same trade that brought Archer.

Brandon Guyer and Leslie Anderson will add power in the outfield along with Myers. Guyer was called up to the Rays last season, but had his year derailed by a torn labrum that put him on the disabled list for the final four months of the season.

Anderson tore through the International League last season, finishing with a .309 average, 14 homers and a .450 slugging percentage – which came as no surprise to manager Charlie Montoyo.

“My hope this year is that I get to tell that guy that he’s going to the big leagues,” Montoyo said of the 31-year-old Anderson. “Last year I had a meeting with him and told him he needed to hit .300. … and he did. He had an outstanding year and hopefully he will get a call.

“I’m thinking of ways to tell him now, so I’m hoping it happens.”

Smith: 919-829-4841; Twitter: @RCorySmith

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