T-Bones start fresh with new manager, players

When the Kansas City T-Bones open the season Thursday against Lincoln at CommunityAmerica Ballpark at 7:05 p.m., fans will need a scorecard to know the players.

The club only has one player from the 2013 team, which finished 40-60. And the team has a new manager in John Massarelli.

“After the disappointing season last year, we decided we needed a new manager and new players,” vice president and general manager Chris Browne said. “We made an investment in the baseball side with our new manager.

“He has managed 12 years and was in the playoffs eight years.”

Massarelli, who was a catcher/outfielder in the Houston Astros organization, managed two different teams in the Frontier League. He had a winning percentage of .590 in his eight years in the Independent Frontier League.

What does the new manager see as the strength of his team?

“We are versatile,” Massarelli said. “We have a lot of players who can play multiple positions.”

He said that pitching will be a key to having a successful season.

“We have to command the zone with our pitching staff, especially in this ballpark,” he said.

Massarelli said that second baseman Danny Richar, who played in the Major Leagues with the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds, and shortstop Vladimir Frias will be key players defensively. Frias made as high as Class AAA.

“We need to have solid defense up the middle,” Massarelli said.

The only player back from the 2013 T-Bones club is left-handed pitcher Rick Zagone, who played at Missouri.

They signed catcher Bubby Williams, who played at Blue Springs High School, in February.

“Our key to success will be having everyone playing together,” he said. “We need everyone clicking.

“Our older players will help us by giving us good advice.”

Houston made him an 11th round choice in the 2009 major-league draft.

Back with T-Bones is Kansas City Royals legend Frank White, who will be coaching first base.

Browne noted that the club has added four $1 hot dogs nights to the promotion calendar.

“We will be have Mountain Man from Duck Dynasty here on June 5, and Jose Canseco will be here for a Home Run hitting contest on Aug. 3,” Browne said.