by Amy Moritz
With Opening Day just three days away, the Buffalo Bisons announced a 25-man roster that is loaded with experience. Of the 25 players, 23 have Major League experience -- a combined 3,229 games.
The Bisons' five-man rotation features 817 big league appearances. Righty Ramon Ortiz won 16 games with the Los Angeles Angels in 2003 and was on the World Series team in 2002. Claudio Vargas (RHP) played in 2006 with Arizona and 2007 with Milwaukee. David Bush (RHP) has four seasons with eight or more Major League wins. Justin Germano (RPH) should have played in the Triple-A All Star game in Buffalo last season, but he was busy with his promotion to Boston while Todd Redmond (RHP) has been in the top five in strikeouts in the International League the last three seasons. He made his Major League debut last season with Cincinnati.
This season will be a homecoming for infielder Jim Negrych. The former All-Western New York player from St. Francis was an All-Star with Syracuse last season. He had an impressive string training with Toronto, hitting .412 (14-34) with two home runs and seven runs batted in.
The infield includes: Luis Jimenz, an All-Star first baseman with Tacoma last year; Andy LaRoche, who won the Govenors' Cup Trophy with Pawtucket in 2012; Menumeori Kawaski, who played 61 games with Seattle last year; Eugenio Velez, who hit .280 with 50 extra-base hits for Triple-A Memphis in 2012; and Ryan Goins, Toronto's top prospect, who led the Eastern League with 158 hits in New Hampshire last year. Lars Anderson, who belted 33 home runs over the last three seasons with Pawtucket, was traded Monday to the Chicago White Sox.
Headlining the outfield will be Anthony Gose, who played in the All-Stars Futures Game last year and has 228 stolen bases in 566 career games and Moises Sierra, who was part of the Dominican Republic championship team at the World Baseball Classic last month and hit a combined .271 with 23 home runs and 78 runs batted between Triple-A Las Vegas and Toronto last year. Also in the outfield are Ryan Langerhans and Mike McCoy.
Bisons fans will be familiar with both catchers. Josh Thole played in 48 games with the Herd in 2010 before spending most of the last three years with the Mets. Last season, Thole caught Johan Santana's no-hitter. Mike Nickeas returns to the Herd for the fifth straight season.
The bullpen came together Friday when the Blue Jays claimed righty Alex Burnett off waivers from Minnesota. Burnett pitched 133 games over the past two years with the Twins. Juan Perez (LHP) had a 3.60 earned run average in Triple-A Nashville in 2012; Brad Lincoln (RHP) held opponents to a .176 average in 47 relief appearances with both Pittsburgh and Toronto last year; Alex Hinshaw (LHP) has experience with the Giants, Padres and Cubs; Buddy Caryle (RHP) posted a 3.43 earned run average for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season; Micky Storey (RHP) had a 3.05 ERA and went 7-4 for Triple-A Oklahoma City before getting his first promotion to Houston; and Neil Wagner (RHP) has 45 saves in his seven-year career.
The Herd, managed by Marty Brown, opens the season at 2:05 p.m. Thursday against the Rochester Red Wings.