Eau Claire (WQOW) -- Many consider Memorial Day the unofficial start of the summer. As if on cue, the boys of summer have begun to filter into Eau Claire. The Express open up the 2014 campaign Tuesday night.
The team held their first practice of the year Monday night at Carson Park. 16 players have made their way to tow, the most the team has had this early in the year. With just one practice before opening day, there's not much time to work on fundamentals. But field manager Dale Varsho says Monday's practice was about something else.
"To be honest with you, it's about getting to know everybody and figuring out who is who. Even right now, I'm having difficulty with it. We haven't had 16 players here for opening day in a long time. For me to throw faces with names, it's tough. So we're just trying to get together and trying to figure out who's who," says Varsho.
This year's squad will feature a number of new names for Express fans to learn, but some will look very familiar. The team features five area guys: Brady Burzynski and Tyler Hermann from Eau Claire, Andy Davis and Justin Jaquish from Chippewa Falls, and Alex Call from River Falls. Only Burzynski and Call have guaranteed contracts through the summer, but all agree it is special to play a high level of baseball in front of friends and family.
"I grew up in Eau Claire, played here for a lot of different teams and it's real fun to play here, especially with the Eau Claire Express fans," says Burzynski. "They get the most fans out of any team here, so it's going to be a blast."
"You know, it's a great opportunity to be close to home," adds Davis. "Family and friends can come so I'm glad I have the opportunity and hopefully I can do well and shine in it."
"It'll be nice. Playing in Milwaukee, my parents don't get to see me play as much as they'd hope to, so playing close to home is going to be fun," says Jaquish.
The Express and Lakeshore Chinooks square off Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. from Carson Park.
Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Theresa Wopat at 507-895-9969. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.