The defending 2016 AEL champion Calgary Inferno start the 2017 season off with a four game road trip in Anchorage, where they hope to spark a strong start to a longer season in the hopes of finding a playoff repeat.
For their part, the Anchorage Aces, newly minted after moving from San Diego during the off-season, are also looking to repeat a strong season. Last year, they finished 1st in the AEL West, though they fell to the wildcard Jacksonville Ravens in the Elimination Round, 3-2.
Calgary’s 2016 roster is mainly intact, as we see the return of 2016 AEL MVP, C Dao-zi Ling (.339, 25 HR, 68 RBI), slugger Cody Martin (.301, 26 HR, 55 RBI) who could fill a DH role, and 1B Logans Run (.212, 15 HR, 37 RBI). They bolstered their rotation, adding former Montreal Metros left-hander Rod Matos (11-1, 2.99) and Seattle’s Enrique Nunez (7-4, 3.43), making big strides to improve their pitching, which was well behind several other AEL teams last year (their 4.40 ERA was 9th in the league, and their BABIP of .326 was 10th).
The Aces snagged 1B Takeo Otomo (.307, 18 HR, 54 RBI), who left Calgary after last year, signing the 37-year-old to a 3-year, $56.2 million deal. They are gambling that the veteran’s bat will continue to swing heavily to bolster an offence that already included 2016 batting title winner RF Alex Viramontes (.365, 18 HR, 62 RBI). The signing could not have been more timely, as the Aces other big outfield bat, CF Ricky Jalapeno (.324, 12 HR, 63 RBI), was injured in a spring training game on April 13, and will miss the entire 2017 season.
After Calgary moves on, Anchorage hosts Jacksonville Ravens for four, before hitting the road themselves and going to Denver on May 22.
Calgary will return home to play four against California on May 18, before taking a day off and then travelling to Carson City, Nevada, to take on the Speeders for four games starting May 23.