Fuego plan to hold open tryouts

May 24—Time to dust off that baseball gear and grab a fresh stick of pine tar.

With rival independent leagues pilfering players from the Pecos League, Santa Fe Fuego manager Bill Rogan said he's willing to hold a tryout at Fort Marcy Ballpark this week in hopes of finding a few fresh faces.

"We've lost seven or eight guys to other leagues," Rogan said Friday.

The Fuego begin reporting for preseason workouts Monday and will be on the field for the first time Tuesday morning. The tryout is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, although nothing is set.

Rogan said Pecos League president Andrew Dunn will be on hand and that the two of them have been working the phones to find able-bodied players willing to come to Santa Fe on virtually zero notice.

Regardless, by time the pitchers take the field at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, no more than a handful will be available. Position players are expected to start working out at about 10 a.m. Even at full strength, Rogan said the initial day of practice will leave the Fuego as many as 10 players short of the 30 they had planned to bring in.

"I've got some guys I've been talking to and I know Andrew does, too, but that's where we'll give anyone a chance," Rogan said. "We're getting the word out. If you want to be part of what we're building, this is the time."

League rules cap rosters at 22 players. The final cuts will be made May 31 and the team will hold a public meet-and-greet at 4 p.m. June 1 at Fort Marcy Ballpark, then the players will assemble for team photos at the Santa Fe Railyard before disbursing to hand out schedules and remind people that baseball is finally back.

"I want these guys in full uniform with a fistful of schedules going into business and meeting people," Rogan said. "This is Santa Fe's team. We want people to know who these guys are."

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A lot can happen in five years. Just ask the Pecos baseball program.

In 2016, the Pecos baseball program played for the Class 3A state championship. Within three years, the Panthers were absent from the Class 2A field as it shuttered the program because of a lack of players.

This year is the first of its resurrection, which coincided with the emergence of Nick Ruiz as coach. He is the brother of former Panthers coach Augustin Ruiz, who now guides the St. Michael's program.

Perhaps that is why the Panther's second act has started off so well. Pecos is 3-0 and has scored 68 runs. In two games against long-standing rival Mora, Pecos scored 54 runs in beating the Rangers 26-16 and 28-11.

The Panthers will find out where they stand in the 2A pecking order when they head to Estancia on Thursday afternoon. The Bears are 4-1 and ranked third in 2A, according to MaxPreps.com. For the sake of full disclosure, only nine teams are ranked in the latest poll, which was released Friday, because of the four-game minimum requirement to be ranked.

Peñasco, which is ranked fourth in the poll, lost to Pecos 14-7 on April 17.

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Speaking of polls, the Capital baseball team continues to knock down barriers. The Jaguars sit 10th in the latest 5A poll, ahead of perennial 5A powers Albuquerque Eldorado and Piedra Vista. That is quite the feat for a program that hasn't had a winning season since 2005 or won more than six games since 2006.

Capital hit the six-win plateau Saturday with a District 5-5A doubleheader split with Albuquerque High. However, it finds itself in third place in the district standings, trailing the Bulldogs, Albuquerque Rio Grande and Los Lunas in the standings.

The Jaguars play the Tigers at home in a Saturday doubleheader.

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While the prep season finally got underway despite the coronavirus pandemic's attempts to stop it, prep fans are still getting used to old traditions with slight twists.

Such is the case with Santa Fe High's Capital City Invitational. Normally held Saturdays with a field full of northern schools, the meet will take place Thursday with a limited field. Even more interesting is the start time — 9 a.m.

With the school year ending while spring sports race to the finish line, it means more games and events will be held in the morning. In April, Santa Fe High coach Peter Graham said concerns about competing in 80-90 degree temperatures in May and June prompted decisions to start meets early or in the afternoon to avoid the hottest part of the day.