Missing out on New Jersey’s openers

Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to make it to the Trenton Thunder home opener on the 14th.

But Kei Igawa will. (Thanks to Paul for the heads-up.)

It turns out that Brian Cashman’s biggest bust — and the all-time wins leader (32) at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which earned him the cover spot on their record book last year — has been pushed even further from New York. Looks like the Thunder will have a $4 million long reliever and fifth starter.

What a way to spend $46 million, huh?

Here’s hoping Tony Franklin doesn’t overwork Igawa.

And a change in my schedule will keep me from Thursday’s BlueClaws opener as well. They’ll raise their 2010 South Atlantic League championship banner that night. Up through 2005, I’d attended every BlueClaws opener and had made a couple since then, too. But it’s just as well, considering their history of cold, damp opening nights.

The Claws released their roster over the weekend and it features 2010 first-round pick Jesse Biddle and, among the returning players, second baseman Jeremy Barnes, who played at Notre Dame. Biddle ranks eighth among Philly prospects in Baseball America‘s rankings and Lakewood outfielders Domingo Santana and Aaron Altherr rank ninth and 10th, respectively.

For the heck of it, here’s a list of important dates for New Jersey minor league teams in 2011:

April 5
Thunder FanFest, 3 p.m.
BlueClaws vs. Monmouth, 6:05 p.m.

April 7
Lakewood BlueClaws home opener, 6:35 p.m.

April 14
Trenton Thunder home opener, 7:05 p.m.

May 3
Camden Riversharks home opener, 7:05 p.m.

May 6
Somerset Patriots home opener, 7:05 p.m.

May 13-16
Bryce Harper and Hagerstown at Lakewood (he is one of the top prospects in all of baseball)

May 26
Newark Bears home opener, 11 a.m.

May 31
New Jersey Jackals home opener, 7:05 p.m.

June 21
South Atlantic League All-Star Game, Delmarva

July 13
Eastern League All-Star Game, New Hampshire
Atlantic League All-Star Game, York

Aug. 30
BlueClaws home finale, 7:05 p.m.

Sept. 1
Thunder home finale, 7:05 p.m.
Jackals home finale, 7:05 p.m.

Sept. 3
Bears home finale, 6:35 p.m.

Sept. 15
Patriots home finale, 6:05 p.m.

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