Optimism flows on Tomcats’ orientation day

The sky was gray and soggy, but the mood inside the Hilton Garden Hotel in Riverhead on Tuesday afternoon was hopeful and optimistic as the Riverhead Tomcats held their orientation for what promises to be an exciting Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League season.

The Tomcats will open their season with a Kaiser Division game against the North Fork Ospreys on Friday night at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic.

The Tomcats’ roster will feature Cody Slaughter, who batted .389 for Brown this spring, along with Farmingdale State College first baseman Kevin Curtis of Riverhead (All-Skyline second team), Temple pitcher Jimmy Powers of Riverhead, C.W. Post second baseman Casey McKay (All-ECC second team), Stony Brook University pitcher Thor Miller of Miller Place, Adelphi pitcher Chris Pabisch and St. John’s catcher Mike Lonsdale. In addition, there are players from Southern Mississippi, Villanova, Harvard, UNC-Wilmington and St. Peter’s. Six or seven of the Tomcats’ players will miss the season-opener because they are still playing in college playoffs.

The Tomcats, who went 22-18 in their inaugural season last year, will be managed this season by Randy Caden, the 10-year head baseball coach at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue. Caden said he wants to play an aggressive style of baseball. “I am the most aggressive coach you have ever seen,” he said before addressing his players at the orientation. “We’ll play smart baseball. We’ll hit and run and bunt.”

“We’ll do some infield and outfield practice so the kids can get loose and I can see what we have,” he said. “I want to make sure our strongest outfield arm is in right field, and we place the other outfield arms accordingly. I want to make sure we have the better catcher behind the plate. We still have to sort through the pitching staff. It will take a couple of days to really see what we have.”

Caden said that with such a short lead time to the start of the season, the only way to be successful is to be team-oriented. “I’d like to win, but we’re best served if we try and fine tune the players’ skill set and help them get to the next level,” Caden said.