Some familiar faces will be manning the baseball field at Carson Park this summer.
The Eau Claire Express announced its first roster additions for the upcoming season on Monday. Two of the team’s All-Stars from last season, outfielder Spencer Myers and two-way player Phillip Sikes, will be returning for the Express.
Catcher David LaManna and utility player Cody Milligan are also coming back to Eau Claire.
“We’re hoping that they can show some leadership skills this year knowing that it’s their second year,” Express manager Dale Varsho said. “Hopefully they can show everybody around them how to get ready for a game.”
Myers led the Express in batting average (.307), runs scored (50), doubles (14) and stolen bases (18) last summer. The Notre Dame sophomore posted a batting average that was just outside the top 20 among all Northwoods League players last year.
“Spencer’s a really good player,” Varsho said. “He’s someone who is hopefully going to take another step forward. He’s a guy that can spray the ball, hit to all fields. And he just does everything right, he very seldom makes mistakes.”
Sikes, who transferred to Pima Community College from the University of New Mexico this year, flourished on the mound last summer, posting a 1.08 ERA while often being used as a closer for the Express. He pitched 25 innings and struck out 40 batters.
At the plate, Sikes hit .258 with three doubles and eight RBIs.
“Phillip plays outfield, but he’s such a good athlete that he could probably play infield too,” Varsho said. “And the nice thing with him is that he can really pitch.”
LaManna, a teammate of Myers’ at Notre Dame, batted .237 with seven doubles and 15 RBIs in his debut season with Eau Claire. He started nearly every game for Notre Dame as a freshman last season.
“David is not only a really good player, but he’s a really good person. He loves the clubhouse, he’s a real true teammate. That’s what I love about David,” Varsho said. “Catching bullpens stinks when you’re a full-time catcher, and he had no problem doing it to get pitchers ready to go in the game.”
Milligan was mainly used as an infielder and catcher last year, although he became the first player in Express history to play all nine positions in a single game when he did so against Thunder Bay on July 31.
Milligan batted .272 and knocked 10 extra-base hits to go along with 18 RBIs and 10 stolen bases last summer. He played for Oklahoma State as a freshman last spring before transferring to Cowley Community College.
“Cody can really play anywhere and not hurt you,” Varsho said. “Having versatility in this league, knowing you’re playing 72 games, it’s a big factor.”
Eau Claire opens the season with a four-game road trip to Bismarck on May 28 before returning for its home opener on June 1 against Duluth.