BILLINGS – Technically, summer doesn’t officially start until next week, but anyone knows the surest sign of summer in the Magic City is Mustangs baseball.
The Ponies kick off the 2018 season Friday. This year’s team gathered for the first time Thursday at Dehler Park, with a mix of familiar faces and plenty of new ones. The Cincinnati Reds sent 11 draft picks to Billings, more than double last year’s total. The key for them? Going from weekend work to their new full-time jobs.
“Playing every day, learning how to play every day and the grind of that,” said Reds third-round pick Bren Spillane, the reigning Big 10 Player of the Year out of Illinois. “Just along with being in a new part of the country – it’s something cool, something that you get to learn about, and I’m excited.”
Ray Martinez is back managing the Mustangs for the third straight year and knows how busy the summer season is.
“It’s a lot of traveling. You play every day – you play for 15, sometimes 18 straight games,” Martinez said. “It’s a grind. Professional baseball is not just for anybody – they have to really get used to being tough.”
Friday’s first pitch against the Missoula Osprey is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.