EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – The excitement is palpable now; the 2021 El Paso Chihuahuas season is now just 10 days away, and the team will have a very different look this year.
It will be the first minor league campaign since 2019 after the 2020 season was, of course, cancelled by COVID-19. The new crop of players and coaches are eager to get to the Sun City.
The 2021 edition of the Chihuahuas are still in Phoenix, Ariz., right now going through extended spring training, and when they get here, fans will want to be sure to have a roster handy at Southwest University Park.
Manager Edwin Rodriguez and strength and conditioning coach AJ Russell are the only coaches on the team that have been to El Paso before; on the current roster posted on the club’s website, only pitchers Jerry Keel and Brett Kennedy, and catcher Webster Rivas have any experience playing for the Chihuahuas.
However, a team official said that could change before Opening Day on May 6, and an official roster would be released next week.
“Pretty much everyone else is new to El Paso, I don’t think we have any players that were there for last year,” Rodriguez said. “I’m very excited to be there for this season and the players are very excited.”
With much of the San Diego Padres’ farm system from the last few years that made El Paso home either with the Padres, or another organization, it will be a brand new crop of players looking to make their mark in the Sun City.
Rodriguez joked that he’ll have to be more of a tour guide this year in addition to his managerial duties.
“All the questions are coming to me,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve talked to them about the fans that we have, because they’re very involved. If you’re going to play in the minor leagues, that’s the place to play.”
Since their inception in 2014, the Chihuahuas have been a consistent winner at the Triple-A level and fans will expect a similar product in 2021. It’s on Rodriguez and the new El Paso players to make it happen.
“Regardless of the names on the roster, we’ll have a pretty good team,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll have very good pitching and a mix of veteran players, and some young prospects, which will be exciting.”
The Chihuahuas open the season next Thursday, May 6, at Tacoma; their first home game is May 13 against Albuquerque.