Keys Manager Gomez Ready for the Season

Keys manager Orlando Gomez talks to ITO's as the Keys prepare to open their season Friday.

The Frederick Keys season is just around the corner with their first game at Salem Friday. This season will mark Orlando Gomez's 17th in his managerial career (second with the Keys). Gomez was named South Atlantic League Manager of the Year in 1989 after guiding the Gastonia Rangers, who featured 17-year-old catcher Ivan Rodriguez, to the league championship series where they ended up falling short.

Gomez feels that the team is heading in the right direction and should be able to make a run in 2011, but is also aware of what his team needs to do more consistently to be successful.

“We have a pretty good team you know we have guys from last year, we are an older team than last year, a lot of our pitchers are back and I believe we are going to compete well in the league. The thing I hate to do is tell the guys that we need to catch the ball, if we do that we will have a pretty good chance to win.”

A key concern Gomez expressed was that the hitters were ahead of the pitchers in the spring. The Puerto-Rico native would rather see the pitchers ahead of the hitters to start the season. Gomez knows pitching takes you far and wins on the road and would like to see them get off to a good start.

Frederick finished second to last in team ERA in the Carolina League last season (4.06). The pitching staff as a whole looks to improve with Ryan O'Shea starting the first game of the season Friday, with Oliver Drake, Bobby Bundy, Jacob Rasner and Nathan Moreau projected to follow in the rotation.

The bullpen was one of the troubled spots in 2010. In order for the Keys to build off their playoff birth from last season this will have to be an area of improvement.

“I have plenty of confidence in the bullpen,” Gomez said. “But we are going to have some movement. We have more left-handers in the bullpen that can pitch three or four innings which helps a lot.”

A new member of the bullpen this season is Dan Klein, who was a third round selection in the 2010 draft. Klein made five scoreless appearances for the Aberdeen IronBirds last season. Gomez plans to pitch the right-hander in the sixth or seventh inning. He wants to see how the former UCLA Bruin will fair early and doesn't want to place too much pressure on him.

“Klein threw the ball really well and we hope he does the job and adjusts nicely,” Gomez said.

Jacob Julius will be one of the leaders of the team this season. The 25-year-old outfielder was playing very well until injuries ended his season. In 65 games in 2010, Julius homered 12 times and drove in 50 runs with a .285 average.

“Julius was having an outstanding season and had a good spring training too,” Gomez said. “He swung the bat really well and he is going to play right field, first base and be a designated hitter for us; he is one of the guys we count on in the lineup.”

The projected starters in the field are Dale Mollenhauer at third base, Garabez Rosa at shortstop, L.J. Hoes at second base, Tyler Townsend at first base and Brian Ward at catcher. The outfielders are Steve Bumbry, Kyle Hudson and Jacob Julius.

Through out the season there will be various movements of players, and the Keys manager says it is up to him to make the right adjustments. Gomez believes there is enough depth on the roster to get back to the playoffs.

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