BRISTOL - Last season, the Bristol Blues reached the FCBL championship series with the help of a few late key additions but, for the most part, did not make moves during the rest of the summer. This season was much different.
As of yesterday, 20 of the 32 players on the Blues’ roster were on the roster on the first day of the season. Since then the Blues have lost both players who began the summer with the team and players who came on at a later date.
“It’s been an experience,” Blues manager Pat Riley said. “A lot of teams go through it. It’s a long 56 game season and some people, for whatever reason, don’t end up seeing it through. There’s a lot of contributing factors to why that is. It’s been difficult.”
The Blues are in the midst of a push for the playoffs and, having made multiple recent transactions, the Blues have been forced to use players who previously had not seen game action for the team. So far, the additions have mostly benefitted the Blues and they need the contributions to keep coming.
“I like the guys we’ve brought in,” Riley said. “I think we’ve got some guys who can contribute right away and they’re going to have to.
“We’re starting guys that we haven’t started before and we’re going it at this point in the season where we’re trying to get into the playoffs but that’s who we are. No complaints here, no complaints from Jordie [Scheiner or] Jimmy [Deschaine]. We are who we are and we’re going to take our shot with it and see what happens. It’s baseball. People come and go all the time and we’ve got to be the best we can be with who we’ve got.”
New additions and early contributions have been most prevalent in the pitching staff. Just eight of the 17 pitchers currently on the Blues roster were on the opening night roster but some of the pitchers who have come in mid-season have been important contributors.
Most notably has been Ben Brown. The junior Righty from Post University made his first start for the Blues on Tuesday in the team’s final home regular season game. He was spectacular, picking up a win against the Nashua Silver Knights with a six-inning outing and giving up just two hits.
“He dealt against one the better teams in the league,” Riley said. “Last game, big crowd, regular season home finale. He didn’t really seem to miss a beat. He rose up to the occasion and we’re going to need him. Big confidence boost from the coaching staff, big confidence boost with the team. He was great and it was awesome to see.”
For the new players like Brown, it has been a positive experience joining the Blues and earning the trust and confidence of the coaches so early.
“It feels good,” Brown said. “They gave me the opportunity to come out and have an impact from the start. It’s just a good feeling. I’ve just been throwing well and just want to keep it going and finish the season.”
While the turnover has been difficult for the players and the organization, the Blues have been able to roll with the punches and focus on playing.
“That’s baseball,” Riley said. “You can ask guys who have been around it. This stuff happens. Sometimes it’s bad luck [and] things don’t go your way.”
Despite the many departures and arrivals throughout the summer, the Blues managed to stay in the hunt for the playoffs into the final week. Now, with just one game remaining in the regular season, the roster moves do not matter. All that matters is doing everything they can to represent Bristol as well as they can.
“Honestly, it’s just [about] coming together at this point,” Blues infielder Austin Chauvin said. “Playing for Bristol is going to be big for us and, whoever we throw out there, we’re just going to play for each other.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org