EVERETT — Wednesday was the first day in town for the 2018 Everett AquaSox.
They were promptly greeted by a Pacific Northwest rainstorm that ultimately wiped out their scheduled 7 p.m. exhibition game against the Everett Merchants.
“We didn’t see much rain last year,” said Everett catcher Troy Dixon. “Nothing like this, so this is a little different.”
The rain came down in sheets for portions of the afternoon as it tested the drainability of the new artificial turf at Everett Memorial Stadium. The rain eventually cleared, but by that time the game had been called. Instead, the AquaSox took batting practice in the cages adjacent to the stadium, and had their hitters face live pitching later in the evening before calling it a day.
The AquaSox open the regular season at 7:15 p.m. Friday at home against the Hillsboro Hops.
“It’s always really exciting when you can start a new season,” Everett manager Jose Moreno said. “You have the new kids from the draft, the first step of their professional career and I feel really good to be part of their journey to get to the big leagues.”
Dixon is one of several players on Everett’s 2018 roster that played for the team last summer. The product of St. John’s University in Queens, New York, slashed .196/.271/.278 with a pair of homers in 97 at-bats during 28 games last summer for the AquaSox.
First baseman/designated hitter Onil Pena and outfielder Ronald Rosario are names avid AquaSox fans might recall from last season. Catcher Geoandry Montilla, and pitchers Cody Mobley, David Ellingson and Carlos Hernandez have also appeared in Everett prior to this season.
Players who were already in the Seattle Mariners system prior to this year’s draft have been at the Mariners’ complex in Peoria, Arizona, for extended spring training.
“Having been here last year I know what to expect,” Dixon said. “I feel more confident this year. Last year was kind of like a fish out of water. Coming from college you don’t really know what to expect. This year I know the system, I know what they preach and it’s all about winning. I’m happy, and I’m happy to be here.”
Rosario slashed .294/.355/.616 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 126 at-bats over 40 games with Everett last season. Pena hit .270/.369/.465 with 10 homers and 31 RBI in 241 at-bats last season.
“They already have the (organization’s) philosophy,” Moreno said. “The players like Dixon and Pena, they have been here for one or two years and basically they’re going to be the core of the team and our leaders.
“When we have new players it’s really good for them to start talking about the message, how we play as an organization, and what we’re looking for in a baseball player, so I think it’s good to have some players like that.”
Dixon split catching duties with David Banuelos last season. Banuelos has since been traded to Minnesota.
“I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself,” Dixon said. “Last year I might have been pressing a little bit, (being) new to pro ball. This year I’m going to do anything to help the team win. Be selfless and forget about the ‘me.’ Play hard for my teammates, play hard for each other and come out and try to win every day.”
The players at extended spring training were joined during the weekend by a number of this year’s draft picks. A total of 14 players on the current Everett roster were taken in last week’s draft by the Mariners.
For the new players it marks a significant transition from the college ranks.
“The biggest message from us is to try to create a personal routine,” Moreno said. “Now as a professional baseball player you have to grind every day. That is not something you do in college or in high school. But now that is biggest key for us to try to teach them to start knowing what exactly to work for them.”
That, and getting used to the weather.
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