Confidence is a word several Bees used to describe the team's outlook. With a roster full of veteran experience and young prospects, the Bees are setting their sights on a Triple-A championship.
Last year's team came close, falling short in the Pacific Coast League finals. But Efren Navarro, a Triple-A All-Star last year entering his fourth season with Salt Lake, said the Bees are capable of going further this season.
"We're stacked," Navarro said. "… We had all spring to get to know each other, and now that we're here the whole team is ready to go. Hopefully we can go farther in the playoffs this time around. We're shooting big and hopefully we can win the whole thing."
The Bees' high hopes are appropriate for Opening Day, that annual rite of spring when each team is given a clean slate and harbors aspirations of summer success leading to postseason glory.
Manager Keith Johnson said his heart will be beating fast when he looks into the crowd for the first time Thursday, thinking of the possibilities of the season that will follow.
"It's very exciting," he said. "All the work you've put in over the course of the spring to try to get these guys ready. There's a nervous energy you get before competing."
But Opening Day also is a fresh start for the players, who are one level from the majors. And for many that is a lifelong dream waiting to be fulfilled.
"I want to make it to the big leagues," Long said. "That's been a goal ever since I was a little kid. The focus is working on my game, getting it to the point where I would eventually get a call-up."
River Cats at Bees
P Thursday, 6:35 p.m.
Note • All at 6:35 p.m.
Thursday • Sacramento
Friday • Sacramento
Saturday • Sacramento
Sunday • Sacramento
Monday • Fresno
April 8 • Fresno
April 9 • Fresno
April 10 • Fresno