RedHawks Excited to Get Going in New Venue

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:19 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Apr 5, 2011 5:10 PM CDT

Jessica Coody
Oklahoma Sports Mobile Journalist

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma City RedHawks might be affiliated with a new team this year, but the Astros' Triple-A players are already familiar with the ballpark in Bricktown.

A year ago, the now-RedHawks were affiliated with the Round Rock Express, and were the visiting team in Oklahoma City twice per season.

"The ballpark was always one of my favorites coming through as a visiting player," RedHawks shortstop Tommy Manzella said.

"We've been in Round Rock the past six seasons. Coming to Bricktown, coming to the ballpark here has always been a pleasure," Redhawks' pitching coach Burt Hooton said. "It's a nice venue. The city's always been great and I think we're going to look forward to having a good, long relationship here."

Fans in Oklahoma City have been used to seeing the American League Rangers' affiliation, and this year's RedHawks might be a little bit different ballgame.

"It's a national league game so you might not have nine guys swinging for the fence all the time," Manzella said. "I know the Rangers have had some pretty good sluggers here the last couple years.

“National League, especially in the NL Central, kind of how they breed us is pitching and defense and timely hitting and moving runners over and things like that, so it's definitely a different kind of baseball but the game is the same."

The Astros' top prospect, pitcher Jordan Lyles, will be starting in Triple-A this season.

“I hope he gets to pitch in front of a lot of fans here,” Hooton said. “He's a good young prospect, he's probably baseball-wise a little bit more mature than a lot of guys his age.

“He had a very good spring with the Big League baseball team this spring and we're expecting big things out of him. The basic thing he needs is experience and as a coach you can't give a player experience other than just running him out there and letting him pitch,” Hooton said.

Lyles said that he has worked on certain aspects of his game in the offseason, but is also excited for the team-oriented part of the season in his new location.

"During the spring I just wanted to get ready for the season and get my arm in shape and focus on fastball command,” he said. “However long I stay here I just want to come to the field with a great mindset of trying to get better and trying to help our team win here in Oklahoma City."