Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cal Ripken Jr. Will Attend Home Opener

Charlotte Stone CrabsFrom the PR: Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. will attend the Charlotte Stone Crabs Inaugural Season Opening Night on Thursday, April 9, at Charlotte Sports Park. The Stone Crabs will face off against the Fort Myers Miracle at 7:05 p.m. in their Charlotte County debut, and tickets are already going fast.

“We think this will be one of the biggest nights in Charlotte County history,” Ripken said. “With the overwhelming response we have received so far, I can’t wait to see a packed house at Charlotte Sports Park enjoying our family entertainment.”

Ripken is the co-founder of Ripken Baseball, which owns and operates the Stone Crabs, the brand-new High-A affiliate for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Stone Crabs are the third team under Ripken ownership, following in the footsteps of the Aberdeen Ironbirds and Augusta GreenJackets.

Opening Night promises to be a spectacular event with fireworks, giveaways and other promotions in addition to Ripken’s appearance. The first 7,000 fans will also receive a free Stone Crabs magnet schedule courtesy of Pro Air Conditioning.

Go to for ticket information.

Former Rays minor leaguer Hector Gimenez, who recently signed with the Pirates, hit a game-winning homer with two outs in the 11th inning in the 2009 Caribbean Series. The hit gave his Tigres de Aragua (Venezuela) a 1-0 win over Mazatlan Venados (Mexico). Jon Weber also was in the game as Mexico's center fielder. Venezuela is now 2-0 and Mexico is 1-1. Box score.

Willy Aybar is playing for the Dominican Republic's Tigres de Licey in the Caribbean Series. Jesse Sanchez quotes him on his thoughts about being a utility player for the Rays in 2009: "The only thing I can't do is catch," Aybar said. "I don't think I'll ever be a catcher, but you know, I'll go wherever the manager needs me."
More on his role: "They want me to play every position, and that's fine," Aybar said. "They are counting on me to play whenever I get the chance at any position. I just have to be ready when they call."
On the Rays chances next year: "We have a team that is young but with some experience," Aybar said. "Obviously we play in one of the toughest divisions, but when we play together, I think we beat anybody."

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