With apologies to the Kansas City Royals and the Milwaukee Brewers, when it comes to the term “small-market team,” there aren’t many baseball teams smaller than Greenport High School’s squad.
“We are a small-market team,” said coach Chris Golden.
With a student enrollment of 179 registered with Section XI, Greenport doesn’t exactly have a wealth of baseball players to draw from, so Golden finds positions and uses for all of his players, sprinkling in a dash of fun here and there.
“It’s a small school,” he said. “You need players, so you need to make it so they want to be a part of something.”
Unfortunately for Greenport, two players who would have been significant contributors, will not be a part of the team this coming season. Golden had already known that junior shortstop Brian Tuthill was lost for the season because of a shoulder injury. Making matters worse, the coach learned on Monday, the first day of preseason practice, that pitcher Matt Dibble’s senior season ended even before it had begun. Dibble, Golden said, will need to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.
Golden said Dibble “was like David Cone. You put him out there and he would give you 120 pitches.”
The Porters, who went 5-15 last year, have a nice group of returning players such as outfielder Bryant Rivas, pitcher/first baseman Austin Hooks, pitcher/first baseman/outfielder John Drinkwater, pitcher/third baseman/catcher Matt Drinkwater, catcher Christian Angelson and the versatile Timmy Stevens, who can literally play any position on the field. Others like Ivan Novak, an outfielder who transferred from Bishop McGann-Mercy, outfielder Wilson Morales and infielder Eddie Rogers should also help out.
“They get along well with each other,” Golden said. “They’re good friends on the field and off the field. It doesn’t seem like there are too many distractions. Last year we had too many distractions.”
Golden said Stevens looked real good in the field, the Drinkwater twins look bigger and stronger than they did a year ago, and Hooks exudes reassuring confidence.
At their first practice, the Porters swung the bat, tossed balls and then played a seven-inning simulated game on a makeshift field. “It was a great day,” said Golden.
Golden said his primary concern, first and foremost, is arms. He wants his players to gradually build up their arm strength without injuring themselves by trying to do too much too soon.
“The big thing is arms — arms, arms, arms,” he said. “We make sure the kids take it easy and don’t overdo it.”
Greenport will open the season with a doubleheader at Shelter Island on March 25.
Hooks and the Drinkwaters are expected to handle a good deal of the pitching, with Stevens and Rivas also getting time on the mound.
Golden doesn’t believe that Greenport has reached the playoffs under its own banner since the 1980s. That is something he would like to see change this year.
“That’s our goal,” he said. “We’re out here to make the playoffs. … Making the playoffs is fun. That’s what you play for.”