California Sharks manager Eduardo Aponte predicted this week that his team will win the Patriot League title this season. “I look around at my team, and I see a champion,” Aponte told reporters during a press conference from the Sharks’ spring training site in San Gorgonzola. “You know when you’re on a first date, and you get an idea whether it’s going to work out or not? That’s the feeling I have. I am dating a beautiful woman, and I believe we are destined for great things. I feel I will be shopping for a ring soon.”
Aponte lavished praise on the Sharks’ starting pitchers, saying that “I am confident that our rotation is superior to any in this league, or any other league. When I hear them warming up, it is like a row of cannons firing.” He also raved about the gloves and arms of his outfielders. “If opposing batters manage to hit the ball, it will go into the outfield to die,” said Aponte. Additionally, he praised the top-to-bottom strength of the California lineup. “We will not be hitting a great number of home runs,” Aponte predicted, “but we will be skilled at putting hits together. We will score runs in the old-fashioned way, and I am an old-fashioned guy, so I like this very much.”
This is the 45-year-old Aponte’s first managerial position. When asked how he could evaluate his team’s strength relative to the rest of the league before any games have been played, Aponte smiled and said, “I have played baseball since I was old enough to hold a bat, and I know what a winning team looks like. Also, I am making sure that will will be in perfect shape.” Aponte, renowned in his playing days as a fitness freak, is running his team through a grueling workout regimen designed to build the team’s endurance for a long season. “CrossFit could learn something from Eduardo,” said Sharks LF Kenneth Mader.
If Aponte’s championship promises are going to come true, the Sharks will have to prevail in a tough Western Division race. California’s rivals include the Silver City Outlaws, who built their team using sabermetric analysis; the Milwaukee Bear Claws, who have perhaps the league’s best hitter in 1B Felipe Mateo and a top closer in Oscar Buenaventura; and the Salt Lake Samurai, who recently expanded their front office.