Tri-City Dust Devils

Tri-City Dust Devils play ball Friday. Here's who is in town so far

Tri-City catcher Blake Hunt talks about his upcoming season with the Dust Devils.
Tri-City catcher Blake Hunt talks about his upcoming season with the Dust Devils. Tri-City Herald

Blake Hunt wasn't going to lie; he had to do his homework to find out where Pasco was when the San Diego Padres assigned him to the Tri-City Dust Devils.

No matter where he landed, he is happy to be back on the baseball diamond after missing part of last season with a shoulder injury.

"When you sign to play pro ball, it is what it is," Hunt said. "The long bus rides is the minor league life. I'm just excited to play in front of fans. We have a young group, it should be a lot of fun."

The Dust Devils held their annual media day Tuesday at Gesa Stadium, where Hunt and the rest of his teammates got a look at the ballpark and their community.

"When we were landing, it was beautiful," Hunt said of the Columbia River.

Tri-City will open its Northwest League season Friday with the first of a five-game set at Salem-Keizer. The Dust Devils' home opener is June 20 against the Spokane Indians. They will play 11 of their first 14 games on the road, but will play 19 of 27 games at home in August.

A catcher from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., Hunt was a second-round pick (69th overall) of the Padres last season right out of high school. He had committed to Pepperdine University, but chose to go pro.

A shoulder injury kept him from behind the plate last season, but he was able to step in as a designated hitter.

"I've got a little bit of a bat," said Hunt, who hit .241 with nine doubles, two triples, two home runs and 19 RBIs in 30 games of rookie ball in the Arizona League last year. "At 6-foot-4, if I didn't, it would be a problem."

The Dust Devils had a skeleton crew of infielders and outfielders Tuesday, but are expecting a crop of college players later this week.

"I think this is an exciting team," said manager Mike McCoy, who was assigned to the team three weeks ago. "We have some young players, some college players and some returning players with experience in the league. I'm excited to see the college players I haven't seen."

McCoy, 37, who had a solid minor league career wrapped around 170 major league games, said after working with some of the players for 2 1/2 months in Arizona, he is ready to see them play.

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Right-handed pitcher Joe Galindo returns for his second season with the Tri-City Dust Devils. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

"They have put in the work," he said. "(Pitchers) Adrian Martinez and Henry Henry have experience and will be solid starters. I'm excited to see how (outfielder) Mason House (2017 third-round pick) does."

Right-hander Joe Galindo, who started the season with Fort Wayne, is back for his second season in the Tri-Cities.

"This is not a bad place to be," said Galindo, a 13th-round pick in 2016. "There's always a process. The environment is nice here, and the host families get involved with the players."

Galindo also is looking forward to working with McCoy, who takes over for Ben Fritz, who spent the past two seasons with the Dust Devils.

"He is very similar to Ben," Galindo said of McCoy. "He is very active with his players and has a lot of energy, which helps keep the love in the game. You can't get too serious in this job. It's suppose to be fun."

Annie Fowler: 582-1574; @tchicequeen
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