A mix of prospects and veterans make up the Colorado Springs Sky Sox lineup for today’s season opener in Tacoma, Wash. “It’s predominantly a new group of guys,” said first-year manager Tom Runnells. “That leads to uncertainty, but I’m a positive guy and I prefer to look at it that way. I think we have some talent.” Runnells, who managed Double-A Tulsa to the playoffs during his first two seasons in the Colorado Rockies organization, hopes to achieve the same with the Sky Sox. “I want consistency from the beginning,” Runnells said. “I think we’re ready to get right into battle.” Runnells said he prefers a set lineup but said his roster boasts versatility. Set to start in the outfield, from left to right, are Ryan Spilborghs, Tony Miller and Jeff Baker. Juan Melo is at third base, Jayson Nix at second, Carlos Rivera at first and Omar Quintanilla at shortstop. JD Closser, the Sky Sox catcher two seasons ago, is back behind the plate. Today’s starting pitcher is right-hander Miguel Asencio, a former Royal who was in the Padres’ minor league system last year. Asencio missed all of 2004 because of Tommy John elbow surgery. Following him in the rotation will be right-hander Jose Acevedo, left-hander Zach Parker and right-hander Sandy Nin. Brett Prinz, who has 68 minor league saves, is the closer. Backup catcher Dan Conway spent half of last season with the Sky Sox. Likely to become the fifth starter is 24-year-old righthander Mike Esposito, who was effective with the Sky Sox last season but 0-2 in three September starts with the Rockies. Esposito, who was dropped from the Rockies’ 40-man roster, cleared waivers Wednesday but remains inactive. He flew to Tacoma with the team Wednesday. Jaime Cerda, 27, also cleared waivers Wednesday and was added to the roster. Pitcher Justin Hampson went on the disabled list with a sprained ankle. Runnells figures to add three prominent names — Ryan Shealy, Jeff Salazar and Josh Wilson — to the roster as those players become healthy. Shealy, a power-hitting first baseman, and Salazar, a leadoff hitter and center fielder, are in Tucson, Ariz., at extended spring training. Both have strained throwing elbows with no timetable for their return. Wilson, a promising shortstop, has a broken toe and comes off the 60-day DL on June 11. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0250 or email@example.com
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