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Syracuse Chiefs ready to play ball in 2015

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, are preparing for their season opener Thursday night, April 9, on the road at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

The Chiefs, who play in minor-league baseball’s International League (IL), will then play the RailRiders in their home opener, scheduled for 2:05 p.m. on April 16 at NBT Bank Stadium on Syracuse’s Northside.

The team held its media-day event today at NBT Bank Stadium.

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The Chiefs used the occasion to introduce their alternate jerseys, which they’ll wear on Sundays during the season. It’s a light-blue colored jersey with red trim on the sleeves.

The team can wear the alternate jersey for either home or away games, Jason Smorol, the team’s general manager, told CNYBJ during the media-day event.

The team normally wears a white uniform for home games and a gray uniform for away contests.

“Sometimes it’s nice to have an alternate uniform with you on the road, in case … the other team decides they want to wear gray that day. We can always just put the alternate uniform on,” says Smorol.

The Chiefs will also wear a black-colored patch on their sleeve bearing the word “Tex,” to honor the late Anthony “Tex” Simone, who served as the team’s general manager and later as executive vice president and chief operating officer. The baseball club designated him vice president emeritus when he retired in 2013.

The Chiefs announced Simone’s death on March 6 of this year.

 

Upcoming season

Syracuse captured the IL’s North Division in 2014. The Chiefs ended their regular season with an 81-62 record, the team’s best since 1989, the Chiefs said.

The team announced its 2015 schedule in a news release on Sept. 16 of last year. The 144-game slate includes an expanded North Division schedule this season.

Manager Billy Gardner, Jr. returns for a second season with the Chiefs.

As part of a new, “unbalanced” International League scheduling procedure, the Chiefs will play their five IL North Division opponents a combined 91 times, 11 more than the traditional 80-game divisional slate.

Their North Division rivals include Buffalo Bisons, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Pawtucket Red Sox, Rochester Red Wings, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

The Chiefs will also play 28 games against South Division opponents (Charlotte, Durham, Gwinnett, Norfolk) and 25 against West Division opponents (Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, Toledo).

The team had traditionally played 32 games against opponents from the South and West Divisions, the Chiefs said.

The Chiefs 2014 season ended with a 7-6 loss to Pawtucket in Game 3 of the Governor’s Cup semifinals on Sept. 5, as the Red Sox swept the series.

For the upcoming season, the Chiefs on March 24 announced they’ll have a promotion for all 72 home games. The promotions include Social Media Monday, Dollar Thursday, Fireworks Friday, Super Saturday, and Family Sunday.

The Syracuse Chiefs organization is working to make its minor-league baseball product as “desirable” as possible, says Smorol.

“People decide where they spend their hard-earned money and we’re going to be as welcome and as open to those people as possible and just make sure it’s affordable and it’s fun and it’s clean and we’re nice,” he adds.

The Chiefs have also announced the debut of “Springfest”, an open-house event at NBT Bank Stadium, scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Syracuse Chiefs pitcher A.J. Cole wears the team’s light-blue colored alternate jersey during the media-day event.

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Syracuse Chiefs manager Billy Gardner, Jr. addresses reporters during the team’s media-day event at NBT Bank Stadium on Tuesday.

 

Photos by Eric Reinhardt/ BJNN

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