Tecolotes open spring training, sixth tag team championship



Tecolotes Dos Laredos’ mission is clear: to win their sixth team championship. But before they can do that, they have to work a little.

The binational organization opened its 2022 spring training on Thursday. There were a few notable absences – mainly franchise cornerstone Balbino Fuenmayor – but everyone who was there was excited to begin preparations for the new season.

“I’m excited,” Tecolotes manager Mark Weidemaier said. “Forty years in professional baseball and it’s been as exciting as I’ve been for spring training.”

Weidemaier is tasked with bringing Dos Laredos back to the playoffs after missing the playoffs last year. The Tecolotes went 30-36 finishing eighth in the Mexican Baseball League North Division.

The two-nation franchise is bringing back several key players from last year’s team, such as Fuenmayor, starting pitcher Josh Roeder and second baseman Kevin Medrano. But it has also added a handful of talents which Weidemaier believes will make the difference this season.

“We have guys this year who will make a difference,” Weidemaier said. “Our throw will be better. Our defense will certainly be better, which will allow us to stay in games.

The Tecolotes’ starting pitch struggled last season. Roeder and Jackson Stephens — who signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves this offseason — were the only two starters who were quality on the mound. So, the Tecos have added players such as Bryan Bonnell, Jose Flores and Junior Guerra to hopefully improve the starting rotation. Next, when it comes to the bullpen, Weidemaier expects several relievers to do well this coming season.

Offensively, the Tecolotes have added what they believe to be “dynamic weapons”.

The Tecos acquired 2019 LMB MVP Alonzo Harris. The outfielder played for Oaxaca last season, batting .332 with six home runs and 32 RBIs. During his MVP campaign with Oaxaca, he became the first player in league history to record 30 home runs, 30 doubles, and 30 stolen bases.

In addition to Harris, the Tecolotes have brought in players such as first baseman Kennys Vargas and Cade Gotta, who should bring power and speed to this year’s roster, respectively. Vargas hit .310 with 54 RBIs and 18 homers last season with the Saltillo Saraperos, while Gotta was the MVP in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League Championship Series Finals last winter. Gotta won a title with the Navegantes del Magallanes as he hit .267 with three home runs and 17 RBIs.

“I’m happy to be here in Laredo,” Vargas said. “I am delighted to be here and to be part of this club.”

For the Tecolotes to accomplish what they want to accomplish this year, they will need 100% membership. Everyone must accept their role and play it well. The team chemistry must be there. If a player feels his role is unacceptable, it could disrupt the entire season of the bi-national franchise. Thus, several of the team’s marquee athletes plan to instill a team culture early.

“I just try to give my 100% effort,” Vargas said. “You want to show your team that you’re in no matter what. If you win or lose, you have to be there 100%. So that’s what I have to do. I’ll do whatever it takes to win. I hope to send this message to my teammates, that we just need winners.

Harris added: “You have to play hard, play smart, play together, play to win, play great defense. We all have to contribute as a team and do our part to do everything we can to win.

A sixth team championship. This is what worries the Tecolotes. They want to win the Mexican league title this season. They feel they have the talent to do it. But before they can do that, they have to get started. And that’s what they do.

Before a team can win a championship, it must make the playoffs. And to make the playoffs, you have to win games.

Dos Laredos expects to win a lot of contests this year. It seems like last season’s performance was a fluke – as if it didn’t accurately represent his talents. So the Tecos are motivated. They want to get rid of the taste that last year’s campaign left in their mouths.

“Why can’t we be the champions?” said Weidemaier. “There’s no reason we can’t.”

And the Tecolotes are ready to work to become champions of the Mexican League.

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Twitter: @gkroegs

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