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Opening night forecast for UM Canes baseball: clear, 65 degrees, hot pitching & hitting, cold milkshakes

Who's going tonight?

I'll be there for the Hurricanes' 2014 baseball opener against Maine. Looking outside my window and it's a gorgeous day (and likely night) for a baseball game at the Light. 

In addition to the usual Cuban chop-chop stand (yummy!) and the Mark Light milkshakes (yummy!) inside the stadium, fans can also enjoy some additions to the pregame fun every Friday night of baseball season -- a new UM initiative. UM is calling it Party on the Patio, and it begins at 5 p.m. There will be a steel drum band providing live music and high-top tables for food and beverage set up at the front of Alex Rodriguez Park, before you even enter the gate. You use your ticket to get into the park, then can go back outside and enjoy your food and drinks while listening to the music.

There also will be eye-black painting for kids.

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Fresh starts are always nice,and anxious to seeing if and how Chris Diaz has improved this season. It's frankly almost impossible to improve on a 1.64 ERA from last season, but if the Canes' young hitters are as good as we keep hearing about, his 7-5 record could take a nice boost.

"I think this team is different because we have a lot of ego players, like Willie Abreu,'' speedy center fielder Dale Carey told me. "We have guys who are going to learn -- the old Miami, the swag.''

Carey was rated by Baseball America as the 77th-best prospect in Florida last year. But Carey finished 2013 with a .192 batting average and only 12 RBI and one home run.

"It's disappointing but you learn from it,'' Carey said. "I took the whole offseason and stayed here and worked with the baseball summer camps. I helped teach. I took a step back and helped the kids and also I learned from the camps and gained 24 pounds. Last year at the end of the spring I was 183.''

Carey said last year's experience has just made him stronger.

"When things like that happen you always think about what you've done. Yeah, it humbled me and made me become a better person. This fall I hit .302 and i'm trying to build off that for the spring.''

Abreu, 18, is from Hialeah and graduated from Mater Academy. He was drafted by the Reds in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. He is a strapping 6-4, 225 pounds, with a huge smile and lots of exuberance.

"You weren't offered by the Reds what you think you deserved?" I said to Abreu

"No doubt. No doubt,'' he answered. "That's true. Of course. But there's no problem with coming to Miami. This is a great place with great people and a great place to play. I know Omaha is going to happen because we work hard and we're not going to give up,'' he said of the College World Series. "We're not going to stop for anyone.

"Can't wait for the season to start. It's almost here.''

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MAINE FACTS

The Black Bears finished 37-22 last season and won the American East Conference. 

From Maine's website: "Maine returns America East and ECAC Pitcher of the Year Tommy Lawrence (West Haven, Conn.). He set the school record for wins in a season with 11, finishing with an 11-3 mark. Lawrence posted a 2.32 ERA in 104.2 innings, striking out 78 batters on the season. Maine also returns Jake Marks (Sarnia, Ontario), Shaun Coughlin (Northford, Conn.) and Burk FitzPatrick (Berwyn, Pa.) who all finished with a pair of saves on the season. Heath is also expected to see considerable innings on the mound this season. 

 "Among the newcomers who are expected to make an immediate impact are Steven Adam (Tecumseh, Ontario), Jacob Gosselin-Deschesnes (Montreal, Quebec), Patrick Coughlin (Cambridge, Ontario), Skylar Marcado (Bronx, N.Y.), Jake Osborne(Burlington, Ontario) and Jeff Gelinas (Saco, Maine)." 

Here's what tonight's starting pitcher for Maine, Lawrence, tweeted today:

If you don't wake up with butterflies in your stomach on opening day then you may just not be human .. #gameday #goblue

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Miami is 61-12 all-time against the Black Bears, including a 6-2 victory last season.

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 IF YOU GO

 WHAT: UM baseball

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon Sunday.

WHERE: AlexRodriguezPark at Mark Light Field, corner of San Amaro Drive and Ponce de Leon in Coral Gables.

RADIO: WQAM 560 (Friday, Saturday) and WVUM 90.5 FM (All games)

ADMISSION: $8 (general)-$14 (reserved chairback); $6 children 2-17 and adults 55-older.

PROJECTED STARTERS: Friday – UM LHP Chris Diaz (7-5, 1.64 ERA) vs. Maine RHP Tommy Lawrence (11-3, 2.32); Saturday – UM LHP Bryan Radziewski (9-3, 1.75) vs. LHP Scott Heath (1-2, 15.63); Sunday – LHP Andrew Suarez (3-6, 3.95) vs. RHP Jake Marks (4-0, 3.16).

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

Comments

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So now bases loaded walks "don't count"?

Sorry, coward, they count, unlike yourself.

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