Spring is in the air, the clocks sprung forward, and Parksville’s Quality Foods Royals were in great spirits on the weekend as the local boys of summer showed plenty of jump up at Springwood Park for their first outdoor practices on home field.
“I was really impressed with the practices,” Royals’ assistant coach Wes Dieleman said, adding “the energy was really good. They’ve been cooped up indoors for the last two months and it was evident they were really excited about playing outside. It was great to get out there, and for the two hours both days it was complete focus. They had so much energy. They were having fun.”
Dieleman is in his third season helping coach the local BCPBL club and was filling in for Royals’ skipper Dave Wallace who is in Phoenix for his annual MLB spring training pilgrimage.
“It’s nice to be dry and warm,” he said of practicing indoors at Arbutus Meadows, adding “it’s great to have such a nice facility — you’re not going to find a team in the league with a better indoor practice facility — but there’s nothing like getting outdoors. It’s why they play the game, and on a nice sunny day like Saturday I was glad to be outdoors too.”
They worked on arm conditioning, agility drills and plenty of ground ball drills along with some live hitting.
“They’ve been hitting whiffle balls the last two months, so they were very happy about that (facing live ball).”
Dieleman said it looks like the Royals will have about 18 players on the roster this year — up slightly from last season.
About a dozen players showed up for the weekend at Springwood, which he said is what they expected, adding the Royals have four players — two returnees and two new — that are in Arizona working out with Protrain Baseball Academy headed by longtime MLB scout, B.C.’s Jim Chapman.
Tuning up south of the border were returning seniors Calvin Sandau and Clarke Ohman from Vancouver, along with newcomers Cameron Forbes from White Rock and Alex Hendra-Brown from Victoria.
“I think that bodes well for the organization,” Dieleman said. “It’s no coincidence that players want to come here. Everyone thinks that the program (Dave) Wallace and (pitching coach) Jim Seredick run here is top notch, and it’s well respected round the league.”
The Royals were one of the youngest squads in the BCPBL last year, but are not this season as more than half are Grade 12’s, “so I don’t think inexperience is going to be a factor, and from what I’ve seen, the arm strength and power of the bats has improved dramatically. I’m looking forward to a good season,” he said, adding “I don’t know about wins and losses, but in terms of development you can see quite an improvement over last year.
“That one year,” he said, “makes a huge difference.”
The Royals are back at it up at Springwood Wednesday evening for another practice.
GAME ON: The Royals open their regular season against the Mariners in Victoria April 13 and return home the next day to host the Victoria Eagles in a double header starting at 12:30 p.m.