Aviators Seek Turnaround

ROCKFORD-The Rockford Aviators have opened training camp, and they’re more than happy to start with a clean slate. They’re coming off the worst season in franchise history.  It’s manager Jim Frisbee’s job to get this thing turned around.

Frisbee took over the Aviators in the middle of last season after the Aviators got off to a miserable start.  Even though he’s only been in Rockford a short time Frisbie feels the pain of the fans who have watched this franchise stumble through five straight losing seasons.

"It’s time that the city of Rockford has something they can come out and watch, and not want to throw up on their way out of town. I really believe that. Last year was tough," says Frisbie.

Last season the Aviators had the worst pitching staff in the Frontier League, and they hit by far the fewest home runs in the league.  So Frisbee re-tooled the roster over the winter.

"This is the most talented group I’ve ever put on the field on paper," says Frisbie. "I found a few guys off the radar, a few guys who got released."

The newcomers are bigger and more athletic than previous players we’ve seen here in recent seasons. The biggest and maybe most talented of the bunch is 6’7 outfielder Jose Martinez.

"A double A All-Star last year," says Frisbie. "How nobody else seen him I don’t know, but I was very, very lucky to get Jose."

Outfielder Wander Ramos is another newcomer to keep an eye on. He also brings that rare combination of speed and power.

"I look for him to be an impact guy. I would be surprise if he’s not," says Frisbie.

The few returning Aviators include outfielder Jeff Kremer. He was the Frontier League’s second leading hitter last season with a .357 batting average.

Frisbee says he likes to be aggressive with runners on the bases.  So the Aviators will hit and run and put guys in motion a lot. He also expects the team to hit more for power this season.

The key will be the pitching. That’s why Frisbie has brought 19 arms into camp.

Frisbee won’t make predictions about this season, but he says he’s "Cautiously optimistic. I lover our attitude. They’re ready to go. They’re ready to play for Rockford."

The Aviators home opener will be Friday, May 16th.

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