Gamboa’s eager to take Cyclones north to start season

June 3, 2014 Jim Dolan
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Generally, Brooklyn fans expect the New York Mets routinely to field a good minor league Short Season-A team in Coney Island to compete by mid-June in the New York Penn League. The reason that the Cyclones can hit the ground running is that young first and second-year players have just completed the long-term program of “Extended” in Florida.

When the baseball season starts in April for the New York Mets as well as the team’s four minor league affiliates (Triple-A Las Vegas, Double-A Binghamton, High-A St. Lucie and Low-A Savannah), last season’s younger minor league players stay behind in Port St. Lucie to start their extended spring training program for another two long months.

“These players are still young and inexperienced. They never played a full season before and still need more time in Florida,” said new Cyclone Manager Tom Gamboa in a May 28 phone interview.

“It’s been awfully hot and humid down here,” Gamboa stated.

“It takes a lot of your energy,” said the Cyclones 10th new manager since the team’s inaugural 2001season. “Pretty much I hang out with the players in the hotel in the evening and watch as many movies as I can to relax.”

Gamboa, who started in professional baseball after college in 1971 in Canada’s Summer League, was a major league coach with the Cubs and the Royals. He came to the Cyclones by way of recommendation by the Cyclones last manager, Rich Donnelly, who is currently the third base coach for the Seattle Mariners.

Currently, Gamboa is in charge of 90 minor league players who must practice in the morning and play a game each afternoon six days a week in the backfields of the Mets’ Port St. Lucie complex.

For “Extended,” the coaching staff must be in the clubhouse at 6:30 a.m., while the players are expected to be on the field and stretching by 7:30 a.m. The morning consists of infield and batting practice, with break for lunch and then a game in the afternoon with either the Cardinals or Marlins from nearby Jupiter.

With the day ending at about 3 p.m., players also lift weights twice a week with dinner served at 6 p.m. in their hotel. For the Latin players, who comprise two thirds of this year’s extended program, mandatory English classes are held in the evening.

According to Brooklyn’s new skipper, getting closer to the start of the season is the hardest part of extended spring training while the Mets management decides on 30 of the 90 players that will go north to Brooklyn.

“I looking forward to making a lineup and begin working on some double play combinations,” said Gamboa with just a few days left before the cut. “Pretty soon we’ll be boarding a plane for Brooklyn on June 9 with those 30 players and I can’t wait to get there.”

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