Hard to tell in snowy Central Kentucky, but baseball season soon will be here. (Not soon enough, though!)
The Houston Astros, parent club of the Lexington Legends, open spring training at Kissimmee, Fla., on Feb. 14, when pitchers and catchers are due to report. Position players report for the first full-squad workout on Feb. 17.
Eleven Astros are on provisional rosters for the World Baseball Classic, including former Legends pitchers Wandy Rodriguez (Dominican Republic) and Fernando Nieve (Venezuela). Rodriguez, known as Eny Cabreja during his time in Lexington, recently signed a one-year deal worth $2.6 million, plus incentives.
Spring training invitees include past Legends Sergio Perez, Chris Johnson, Lou Santangelo and Bud Norris.
Watch out for camels
Meanwhile, the Legends annual radio caravan will visit Cynthiana, Somerset, Richmond, Danville and Lexington, Tuesday through Thursday, Feb. 10-12.
Atlanta Braves outfielder Josh Anderson, a former Legend and Eastern Kentucky University standout, will join the Caravan for its visit to Somerset. Anderson is a native of nearby Eubank.
Another former EKU Colonel, Legends pitching coach Charley Taylor, will be along for Caravan stops at Somerset and Richmond.
The final stop, at Applebee’s Park, will feature Lexington’s Michael Bertram, Doug Flynn, Ben Revere and John Shelby.
Bertram, a third baseman, hit .285 with eight homers, 55 RBI and 51 runs over 102 games last year with the Detroit Tigers’ Class A Lakeland, Fla., team. Bertram has risen through the minors with Ryan Strieby, a teammate on Kentucky’s 2006 Southeastern Conference co-championship team.
Flynn won World Series titles with Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” in 1975 and ’76. He also won a Gold Glove in 1980 as second baseman for the New York Mets.
Minnesota Twins prospect Revere earned MVP honors in the Midwest League last season, leading all of minor-league ball with a .379 average for the Class A Beloit Snappers. He also had a homer, 43 RBI, 51 runs and 44 stolen bases (57 attempts) over 83 games. He had nearly as many walks (27) as strikeouts (31).
Shelby, a Chicago White Sox prospect, was a teammate of Bertram on UK’s SEC co-championship team. He hit .295 with 15 homers, 80 RBI and 81 runs over 114 games for High-A Winston-Salem last season. In addition, he stole 33 bases in 38 attempts. His father, a former big-league outfielder of the same name, is first-base coach for the Baltimore Orioles.
The Legends note that other guests may be added, and that the schedule of guests is subject to change.
The schduled stops:
Tuesday, Feb. 10 – Live broadcast (8-9 a.m.) of Coffee Break with Rick Chasteen on WCYN-AM 1400, Biancke’s Restaurant, 102 South Main, Cynthiana. Harrison County High School coach Mac Whitaker will be a special guest.
Wednesday, Feb. 11 – Backyard Burgers (3-4 p.m.), Highway 27, Somerset; and
Powell Building (5:15-6:15 p.m.), Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond.
Thursday, Feb. 12 — Danville (details incomplete); and
Maker’s Mark Club (5:30-6:30 p.m.), Applebee’s Park, Lexington.
Talking Legends baseball
Keith Elkins hosts a weekly radio show, Legends Inside Scoop, on WLXG-AM 1300, Tuesdays from 7:20-8 p.m.
Recent guests include Manager Tom Lawless, pitching coach Charley Taylor and Astros “Scout of the Year” Nick Venuto.
* The Legends will host their annual national anthem tryouts Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 14-15, at Lexington’s Fayette Mall.
The auditons will take place in the mall wing nearest Dick’s Sporting Goods, noon-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday.
For details, or to reserve an audition time, call the Legends at (859) 252-4487 . Walk-up entrants also are welcome.
* You say you’ll save the fans from your vocals, but you’d still like to be at the park?
Well, senior slugger, the Legends have a pitch to make to you about the Silver Sluggers Club.
SSC membership, for fans 55 and over, costs $30. That will get you “a special package of gifts,” as well as Sunday tickets for half price, meal vouchers for Sunday games and “exclusive sale opportunities at the Legends Locker merchandise store.” Those registering before April 1 will receive a free box seat to the April 13 home opener.
Club members who attend six Sunday home games will receive a dinner for two in the Maker’s Mark Club. Those who attend all 10 Sunday home games will receive an autographed set of team cards. More details are available from the Legends: (859) 252-4487 .