BOISE — The Boise Hawks had been waiting all spring to get into town, so what was another 45 minutes?
Flight delays made the Hawks arrival a little later than expected on Thursday afternoon, but the first batch of players landed in Boise just before 2 p.m., ready to play ball.
“We’re ready for the season to get started now, so we want to play as soon as possible,” said catcher Hidekel Gonzalez, who is entering his third season with the Hawks. “We love to be here, because the fans and everybody are amazing.”
While some of the Hawks flew in from Arizona, where they have been taking part in extended Spring Training for the past couple months, others opted to drive up and arrived later on Thursday. The group who drove included first-year manager Steve Soliz, who was hired by the Colorado Rockies to lead their Short-Season ‘A’ team after spending 15 years coaching at the Major League level as a member of the Los Angeles Angels’ staff. He replaces Scott Little, who the Rockies promoted to manger of the A-Advanced Lancaster JetHawks.
Soliz was the Angels’ Catching and Information coach for the past three years after spending the previous five as the bullpen coach.
“That means a lot, with 15 years experience in the big leagues, everybody respects him,” said hitting coach Ceasar Galvez, who is entering his second season on the Hawks’ staff. “When he says something to the players, they understand and trust him. That’s good for us, because as soon as he has meetings with the players, they’re going to react to what he says.”
The Hawks announced their season-opening roster a couple hours before the team flight landed in Boise. Included on the roster are several players from last season, including Gonzalez, LJ Hatch and Daniel Jipping, who had 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 42 games with Boise last season.
Pitcher Breiling Eusebio returns to the Hawks after playing in Boise in 2016 and 2017. The left-hander struck out 42 batters in 63 and 1/3 innings with Boise in 2016. He played for the Full-Season ‘A’ Asheville Tourists last season.
The Hawks will hold their first practice at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, in preparation of their June 14 season-opener at Salem-Keizer. For many of the Hawks, that will mark the first competitive game of the season. Others have spent time with other teams in the Rockies’ organization.
Gonzalez spent a little time with the Albuquerque Isotopes, Colorado’s ‘AAA’ affiliate. He appeared in one game for the Isotopes, going 0 for 3 before he requested to be moved down to a level where he would see more playing time.
“The experienced guys, they loved helping me,” Gonzalez said about his time in Albuquerque. “I learned a lot from those guys. They’ll let me play here more, that’s why I’m here.”
The Boise Hawks will host their first home game on June 17 against the Everett AquaSox. Memorial Stadium will also play host to this year’s Northwest League-Pioneer League All-Star game, scheduled to take place. Aug. 6.