Opening Day at Grainger Stadium

Close your eyes. Smell the peanuts, the fresh cut grass, the hot dogs, the sound of kids getting excited, the crack of the bat, the pop of the catcher’s mitt.

That is what is coming to Granger Stadium tonight as the Down East Wood Ducks open at home against Myrtle Beach.

For the first time in 2018, the DEWDs are back in town. This time with a fairly new roster and a new manager, but the team isn’t the only thing that’s changed.

IN THE GIFT SHOP

The Woodies feature many new items, the most special being the throwback Kinston Indians gear. All year long fans will be able to buy the retro K-Town tribe gear, hats, jerseys and other items. The Wood Ducks will also honor the rich Kinston baseball heritage by wearing the old Indians jerseys on Thursday home games, with the exception of opening day. Those games will be called Throwback Thursday.

MOTHER EARTH PAVILLION

Grainier Stadium is also opening the new Mother Earth Pavillion for the home opener with a ribbon cutting at 11 am today.

Mayor Don Hardy, co-owner of Mother Earth Brewing Stephen Hill, and Assistant Of Player Development for the Texas Rangers are expected to be in attendence for the ribbon cutting.

The two-story pavilion takes up about 10,000 square feet including 6,000 covered in the open-air pavilion.

The upper level is accessible by stairs or ramp and can used for large groups of people in their own private setting. Both levels will feature a new covered bar and fans will have the option to be seated or standing to watch the game.

At least one level of the pavilion will be open every home game for DEWD fans to enjoy. The lower pavillion will be open to all fans, the upper pavilion is already reserved on Thursday.

PROMOTIONS

Thursday’s game will also include a fireworks show, a “Baseball is Back” festival will begin and will includes music, food, and of course baseball, and Bojangles will also be giving out Wood Ducks schedule magnets at the gate.

Throughout the home-opening series the Wood Ducks will have various promotions that includes Championship T-shirt giveaway, Mother Earth Friday, and a pre-game autograph signing from Wood Ducks players and post game run the bases on Sunday.

Gates open at 5:30 p.m., pregame introductions will begin around 6:40 p.m., and first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tickets are still available. Tickets start at $10, and go to $12.

ON THE FIELD

The Woodies return to Kinston following a rough road trip that saw them go under .500. Myrtle Beach will be coming to town in the midst of one of the worst starts in the Carolina League thus far this season. Both teams have started the year hovering around the bottom of the standings.

Myrtle Beach's pitching currently ranks at the bottom in the league, while the Wood Ducks offense is middle of the pack. The big players for the Wood Ducks to watch are top prospect Leody Taveras, Alex Kowalczyk, and Charles Leblanc.

The 19-year-old Taveras, from the Dominican Republic, has gotten off to the good start that the Wood Ducks hoped he would, and he brings a "pop" sound like no other player currently on the roster during batting practice.

However, the Wood Ducks pitching is the bread and butter for this team. The Woodies have one of the top pitching staffs in the Carolina League. Edgar Arredondo is scheduled to start today's game.

Arredondo had a solid outing in the lone start before this one against Lynchburg. The righty from Mexico went 5 innings allowing one earned run while striking out 7 and only allowing 3 hits for the win.

 

Kai Jones can be contacted via email @kjone@kinston.com or by calling 252-559-1078.