Some unfinished business for York Revolution entering 2015 season
Fresh off a 78-62 record, a first-half Atlantic League Freedom Division title and a postseason berth, it's hard to consider the 2014 York Revolution season as incomplete.
But, after a first-round playoff exit in five games in a best-of-five series against the Sugar Land Skeeters, it certainly felt that way to the players and coaches.
That sour end lingered in the players' mouths all offseason. So, now, they're using it as a motivator to fulfill some unfinished business.
The Revs will start the 2015 campaign at 6:30 Friday night against the Long Island Ducks at Santander Stadium.
"The goal for me is that we want to win a championship here," manager Mark Mason said. "That's what we want to do. We want to do that for our owners and for the fans and the organization in general and the players want to do it for themselves."
It's certainly the goal every team sets out to accomplish at the beginning of the season, but only a few realistically can say they have a chance. While it's not easy to gauge an Atlantic League team's championship prospects as it is for other professional teams because of the constant roster turnover, it's not hard to imagine the Revs as one of the favorites entering the 2015 campaign.
Notable returners: They're returning 13 members from last year's postseason roster and several more from the first-half team that won the Freedom Division. Among those returning players on offense and in the field is Eric Patterson, one of the many York players with major league experience, but he played the entirety of last season with the Revs.
Patterson adds a steady balance of speed and power to the York lineup in 2015, coming off a 2014 season in which he hit .301 with 15 home runs and a league-record 17 triples. It was the type of season that Patterson was thrilled to have, not just from a numbers standpoint, but also from a health perspective. Now, he's hoping to build off of it and work his way into a contract with a major league organization.
"I've said before, it was nothing I was looking to do coming into the year," he said. "But, once you get into a rhythm and your body and legs feel good, all the numbers and stuff kind of take care of itself. But, it was definitely something I'm proud of and hopefully I can build on it."
Also returning is local product, Anthony Lerew. The Dillsburg native spent the first part of last season with the Revs before signing a major league contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and spending the rest of the season with Class AAA Salt Lake.
Lerew brings back stability in an already strong rotation for York and adds to a pitching staff that had a team earned-run average of 3.44 in 2014. Whether it's for only a portion of the season, like last year, or for the duration of it, Mason is glad to have him back.
"It's great for us," Mason said of Lerew's return to the club. "...He's a right-hander with good stuff and he has good velocity. So, as long as you're right handed and you keep your velocity up, you have a good chance of getting picked back up."
New faces: But, this season won't be entirely dependent on the returners. Several new players were brought into the fold with big league experience to help push the Revs over the top. Guys such as third baseman Bryan Pounds, catcher Luis De La Cruz and outfielder Brandon Boggs are expected to play major roles for York this season.
But, it's up to the returners to get the new guys to buy into the team's winning mentality, one that helped the Revs to back-to-back Atlantic League titles in 2010 and 2011. Even though they weren't members on last year's club, the new acquisitions understand how close the Revs were to reclaiming the Atlantic League crown in 2014 and are ready to help the team one-up last year's effort.
"Anytime you get that close and you lose and it's a game or two away, there is unfinished business the next year," Boggs said. "You want to do better and better. We got more guys in this clubhouse, guys I played with over the years, guys I played against over the years, that we can mesh together and take care of that unfinished business."
It's apparent York knows what it's capable of this season. The team used last year's narrow defeat in the playoffs to the Skeeters as motivation all through the offseason. Now, it doesn't have to wait any longer to prove that it's ready to make that next step.
"My expectations are pretty simple," Mason said. "I expect to win every night. That's my expectations and I think my players feel that way because if you don't expect to win, then you probably won't win. So, we expect to win every night."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com
What: The 2015 Atlantic League season opener for the York Revolution.
Who: The Revs vs. the Long Island Ducks.
When: 6:30 Friday night.
Where: Santander Stadium in York.
Radio: WOYK 1350 AM.
Promotion: The first 1,500 fans will get a magnet schedule, courtesy of the Law Firm of Dale E. Anstine.
Tickets: Tickets are still available at yorkrevolution.com.