2004-06-18 / Sports

Brooklyn Cyclones’ Tijerina Takes On New Challenge

By Elio Velez

Brooklyn Cyclones’ Tijerina Takes On New Challenge


DAVID TORRESDAVID TORRES

By Elio Velez

The Brooklyn Cyclones season starts today at Williamsport and new manager Tony Tijerina is looking forward to inherit the managerial role of a minor league team that attracts major league attention.

The Cyclones have hired managers that have been linked to the past glory days of the Mets. Edgar Alfonzo, brother of former Mets’ star Edgardo Alfonzo managed the N.Y. Penn League champions in 2001. Howard Johnson and Tim Teufel, two key players from the 1986 Mets World Series team, managed in 2002 and 2003 respectively.

Originally the job was supposed to go to Leon Lee, father of Chicago Cubs first basemen Derrek Lee. In early April, he resigned amid charges of indecent exposure to guests in a Port St. Lucie hotel.


STACY BENNETTSTACY BENNETT

Drafted by the Mets in 1991. Tijerina has spent 14 years as a player, coach and manager. In the past few season, he has managed the Mets’ Class Single A teams in Capital City and Port St. Lucie. Tijerina believed it was the correct decision my management to hire someone from within.

"It would cause the least disruption and it made the most sense," Tijerina said as he was introduced to the media at Shea Stadium on June 6.

"What I heard from Tim Teufel is that from a managing standpoint, Brooklyn is an exciting and positive place to manage", Tijerina says.

As an assistant field coordinator prior to being named the Cyclones manager, Tijerina has closely followed the progress of the Mets’ prospects. Those players that he helped instruct in extended spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida will make up the majority of the Cyclones.

The prior knowledge of working with those players should prove as an asset to Tijerina when the Cyclones face other teams.

But the teaching never stops at any point in the season if it’s on or off the field Tijerina says. "We work on the fundamentals every day because you just don’t show up and play. For the players to adapt, they have to deal with the successes and the failures to advance to the next level".

If Tijerina does well, he may advance up the Mets organizational chain in his quest to coach or manage in the major leagues. Howard Johnson, the hitting coach at Double AA Binghamton, has been discussed as a replacement for recently fired Mets hitting instructor Denny Walling. Tim Teufel is managing most of the 2003 Cyclones at Port St. Lucie.

Players Welcomed to Brooklyn

It was a gray gusty day at Keyspan Park last Sunday as the Cyclones held an open practice for the 2004 squad. The new players got the chance to find out the nooks and crannies of the ballpark.

Returning players such as catcher Stacy Bennett, know the ballpark very well.

As the season ended last year in a loss to Williamsport for the Penn League championship, the Georgia native was a part time player who saw most of the time in leftfield. This year, Bennett welcomes the opportunity for more playing time and has loved his adjustment to catch.

"I enjoy catching. I started catching in college (Armstrong Atlantic State), a little bit last year and extended spring training", Bennett says. "I got to play well because the fans care about us when we perform in the clutch".

The most interesting story to revolve around the Cyclones is Brooklyn born pitcher David Torres. Most players have an extensive high school or college playing background before being drafted. This is a bit different.

Drafted in Round 47 out of the University of Central Florida in 2003, Torres was happy to be drafted but it was his perseverance that has led him to wearing a Cyclones’ uniform.

After being cut from the team during his first three years of college, Torres finally made the team in his senior year. In his pitching career at Central Florida, he surprisingly only had 7 innings of experience and it came in his senior year.

"A scout had called me on draft day and told me I may be drafted late in the day," Torres said as he signed autographs for the fans. "When he said that I might get drafted and it happened in the 47th round with the Mets, it was an awesome feeling!"

"I idolized the Mets when I was growing up and my favorite pitcher was David Cone. It was the way he handled himself on the mound and he was such a professional."

For a pitcher with little experience, Torres was tied for third in ERA on the Rookie A ball Kingsport Mets and can start and relieve. Many friends and families will bother him from tickets but its just another issue that Torres will have to resolve.

Opening Day

The Cyclones will host their first game against Hudson Valley on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Bleacher tickets are available on the day of the game.


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