Ian Horne will be pulling double duty for the Garden City Wind during the 2018 season, serving as both the field manager and an outfielder.
The 26-year-old will be trying his hand at managing for the first time, after playing for the last two seasons in the Pecos League. Horne and the Wind open their season at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, when the Trinidad, Colo., Triggers visit Clint Lightner Stadium. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.
“I’ve just got to divvy up the responsibilities,” Horne said Wednesday during media day at Clint Lightner, mentioning he had sought advice from elder baseball statesmen.
Horne got to Garden City the second week of May, and the Wind began spring training not long after, preparing for Thursday’s season opener.
“It’s been a lot of fun, just being able to get to know the guys here,” Horne said. “We’ve got a good group of guys here, and we’ve been training really hard, so we should be well prepared for the season.”
Horne hit .391 with a .457 on-base percentage for the Hollywood Stars in 2017, clubbing 18 doubles, four home runs and driving in 43 in 174 at bats. He hit .354 with 12 doubles for the now defunct Topeka Train Robbers in 2016.
And his hitting prowess just contributes to what he expects will be a potent lineup for the Wind.
The Wind return outfielder Ryan Whitt, who hit .357 with 10 home runs and 35 RBI in 244 at-bats in 2017.
Also returning is Troy Mannebach, who will get the opening day start on the mound for the Wind Thursday, after going 0-2 with a 5.66 ERA in just five starts for the Wind in 2017.
The Wind lost a pair of hurlers during spring training to attrition, so Horne said he’s brought in a couple of more arms he hopes can help.
But the spring training was a big help for the Wind.
“I feel real confident going into the season,” rookie second baseman Daniel Barrett said Wednesday, echoing his manager.
The attention of Barrett and the group is squarely on getting an opening win, however.
“It’s just been something we’ve really been anticipating for a long, long time,” Barrett said. “There’s some nerves, but good nerves.”
Barrett said joining the Wind is “another chance to play ball. It’s all of our dreams to be in the pros, and this our chance to break in.”
That begins for Barrett and crew Thursday.
Note: The Pecos League is now split into three divisions, after having a Pacific and Mountain divisions in 2017. The Wind join Trinidad, the Santa Fe (N.M.) Fuego and the Alpine (Texas) Cowboys in the Mountain Division. Monterey Amberjacks, Bakersfield Train Robbers, High Desert Yardbirds and California City Whiptails, all teams in California, comprise the Pacific, while the Tucson (Ariz.) Saguaros, Ruidoso (N.M.), White Sands (N.M.) and Roswell (N.M.) are in the Southern Division. The Wind do play some games against Southern Division teams, but none against the Pacific.