The 2021 baseball season is starting to feel like reality for the Spokane Indians minor league baseball club.
It’s been a long time since the team played. The 2020 season was cancelled because of Covid. But on Thursday, Major League Baseball released the team’s schedule.
Since 1983, the Spokane Indians baseball club has played about 70 games a season in the eight-team Northwest League. This season it will play 120, beginning May 4, in the six-team High-A West League.
That’s just one of the differences for the Indians in 2021.
Over the winter, Major League Baseball completely revamped the minor league system that develops players for the big league clubs. It has moved some teams to different leagues. It has even eliminated some teams from its affiliation list.
The Indians’ club is one of 120 that made the cut.
A lot of the changes have been kept under wraps until only recently. And that means the Indians have less time than usual to prepare for the upcoming season, says Indians Executive Vice President Otto Klein.
“We’re having a lot of behind the scenes conversations with our leadership group and our team of just logistics. We’ve got a target of May 4 and each department and how do we prepare. There’s going to be a lot of things we’re going to be talking about. I can assure you, behind the scenes, we’re very active and I’m confident we’ll be ready," Klein said.
One of the big changes is the major league team with which the Indians are now affiliated. For years, the Indians have been a Texas Ranger farm club. Now the parent club will be the Colorado Rockies. The Indians’ will be the affiliate at the High-A level, which means the team will see players who are more advanced than those who have played here in past years.
Club president Chris Duff says he’s happy about all of these things, plus the fact that the club finally has some details.
“The energy level within our front office staff has increased significantly over the last couple weeks. This schedule coming out really is an additional trigger for that. We envision, next week, starting to do some proactive reach outs to our sponsors, our ticket package holders, our STCU Gold Glove members, and also our staff as well," Duff said.
The Indians will play in a six-team called the West League. All of the teams are holdovers from the Northwest League, from Everett, Vancouver, B.C., the Tri-Cities, Eugene and Hillsboro, Oregon. They’ll play six-game series against the teams, Tuesdays-through-Sundays, with Mondays off.
The season will start May 4 at home against the Eugene Emeralds.