The Columbus Clippers open the 2012 season this weekend at home with a four-game series against the Louisville Bats.
Coming off back-to-back International League and Triple-A Baseball national championships, the 2012 Clippers feature an experienced roster.
Every player on the team’s Opening Day roster has Triple-A experience and many players have major league experience.
Infielders Lonnie Chisenhall, Matt LaPorta and Cord Phelps, along with outfielder Ezequiel Carrera all played at least 35 games for the Cleveland Indians in 2011 and are on Cleveland’s Opening Day 40-Man Roster.
The Clippers are the Triple-A affiliate of the Indians, and Triple-A players on the 40-man roster have the fast track to the majors.
LaPorta, who has played in 269 major league games including 107 with Cleveland in 2011, struggled in spring training. The first baseman hit .167 with a .188 on-base percentage in 14 games.
LaPorta’s spring struggles coupled with the Indians’ offseason acquisition of veteran, first baseman Casey Kotchman landed the 27-year-old in Columbus to begin the year. LaPorta played in only two games for the Clippers in 2011.
Other Clippers on Cleveland’s 40-man roster include pitchers Zach McAllister, Kevin Slowey, Nick Hagadone, Frank Herrmann, Corey Kluber and infielder Russ Canzler.
Canzler is the reigning IL Most Valuable Player playing with the Durham Bulls, Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, in 2011. The Indians acquired him in an offseason trade with the Rays.
Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh returns to the dugout for his third season as manager of the team. Sarbaugh, who has managed at five different minor league levels, is in his ninth season as a minor league manager in the Cleveland Indians farm system. He has never had a losing season, winning five league titles in eight seasons.
The Clippers begin the season with an eight-game homestand, April 5 through April 12, welcoming the Indianapolis Indians to Huntington Park following their series with Louisville.
Columbus players and coaches were not available for comments at the time of print, as three emails with Columbus’ Director of Communications and Media Relations went unreturned.