Whitecaps ready to return to field after 610 day absence

Season opener on Tuesday night in Fort Wayne
West Michigan Whitecaps ready to start 2021 season
Posted at 8:31 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 23:06:56-04

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. — It's a sense of normalcy as the West Michigan Whitecaps get set to hit the field after over 600 days off.

The team will start the season on the road on Tuesday night in Fort Wayne.

It will be the first game for the Whitecaps since September 2, 2019.

"We're chomping at the bit," said Whitecaps catcher and 38th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Dillon Dingler, "we're ready to get going and it's time to find out what we're made of."

West Michigan Whitecaps ready for game one of 2021

"I've been waiting for this for a long time," added first-year manager, Brayan Pena.

Expectations are high for the team this summer as they make the jump from Low-A to the High-A level.

The roster is also loaded with top talent, including the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, infielder Spencer Torkelson.

Spencer Torkelson
Former No. 1 overall pick, Spencer Torkelson at Whitecaps media day on May 3, 2021.

"I'm really excited, I think I speak for everyone when I say this, we missed it and we missed true competition," Torkelson said, "spring training is fun, but the stats don't count and nobody really cares if you win or lose but now in a regular season, it means something."

Meanwhile, Pena was set to begin the 2020 season with the Whitecaps before the season was canceled due to COVID-19.

First-year Whitecaps manager, Brayan Pena
Brayan Pena answers questions from the media during the Whitecaps media day session on May 3, 2021.

Now, he's making sure he soaks in every moment.

"The fact that we have baseball back means a lot," Pena said, "I love my family, I love my wife, I love my kids but I love baseball, I want to be out here."

Several players on the Whitecaps opening day roster haven't played competitive baseball in well over a year, including outfielder Daniel Cabrera.

New Whitecaps outfielder, Daniel Cabrera
Louisiana State outfielder Daniel Cabrera runs off the field during an NCAA baseball game against Indiana on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

The former LSU standout was a second round pick of the Detroit Tigers last summer and says he's beyond excited to hit the field.

"It's going to be fun being able to play for the first time in a year-and-a-half, just being able to be out there, having fun, I'll feel like a kid again," Cabrera added.

With the Tigers top four draft picks from last summer on the roster, Pena says his focus is on helping all of the players grow to get them to the next level.

"Our goal is for them to get to Detroit and help us win a World Series."

The Whitecaps will play their first home game of the 2021 season on May 11 at LMCU Ballpark.