AirHogs Begin Spring Training

28 players from around world hope to make roster

The Grand Prairie AirHogs are getting ready for what they hope is another successful season.

Spring training is under way, and the 2011 American Association champions had their first practice Monday.

Twenty-eight players from around the world are vying for 22 spots, and team manager Ricky Van Asselberg said competition is fierce.

"These guys are all professionals," he said. "They've been in organizations before. They're either coming off injury or just trying to get back to the big leagues."

The AirHogs, who are coming off of their first championship season., look very different this year. Twenty-two of the 28 players at spring training are new.

Yasutsugu Nishimoto, who flew in from Japan on Saturday, said it was exciting, saying the team had a nice stadium and a nice manager.

Van Asselberg said he hoped the selected players will be physically prepared for the demanding schedule.

"Biggest challenge is repeating and trying to keep the guys healthy," he said. "It's tough to play so many games in a short period of time. We play every day, and we probably average one or two days off a month."

Walter Tenery, an avid AirHogs fan since their first season, has a seat with his name on it. But instead of sitting in it, he'd rather be up around the stadium taking pictures, he said.

"A lot of them have traveled to be here, and their families don't have the opportunity to see them a lot, so I try to do some photos and put up for them so they can see their games and their families can see what they're doing here," he said.

Tenery said he posts his pictures on Facebook so anyone can have access to them. He said it was a small token of his appreciation for a team that also gives back to its community in Grand Prairie.

The AirHogs' finalized roster is expected to be out by Wednesday. The season starts on May 17 at the Laredo Lemurs.

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