Suns Announce 2015 Field Staff

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By Brian Delettre / Jacksonville Suns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Suns will have a new manager for the first time in four seasons as David Berg takes over as the field manager for the 2015 season.

Berg is the first skipper change for the Suns since the 2011 season and fourth overall manager since the team’s affiliation with the Marlins began in 2009. Rich Arena is back in Jacksonville for his new role as hitting coach and Derek Botelho, a former Jacksonville Suns pitcher from 1981-82, was named pitching coach following a 12-year coaching career in the Atlanta Braves system.

Cesar Roman and Scott Smith are back for their second season in Jacksonville as trainer and strength and conditioning coach, respectively, to round out the staff.

Berg, who is in his sixth season in the Marlins organization, has spent two of the last three seasons as manager for the single-A affiliate Greensboro Grasshoppers. In 2014, Greensboro finished the year with an 87-53 record, tied for first in the division and earned a playoff berth. He spent the 2013 season as the Marlins minor league infield coordinator after leading Greensboro to the South Atlantic League Championship series in 2012. Berg began managing in the Marlins system for the Jamestown Jammers in 2010.

As a player, Berg was selected by the Marlins out of the University of Miami in the 38th round of the 1993 First-Year Player Draft. He made his Major League debut for the Marlins on April 2, 1998 and he became the lowest-ever draft pick by the franchise to reach the Major Leagues. Berg hit a career best .313 average for the Marlins in 1998. Following the 2001 season, Berg signed with Toronto where he played for three seasons.

Arena enters his third season working with the Suns and fourth overall with the Miami Marlins organization. For the past two seasons, he was the Suns third-base coach and worked with the Suns hitters during daily sessions. Arena spent the 2012 season as the hitting coach for the Jamestown Jammers.

Before getting back into affiliated coaching, Arena worked at Team One Management from 2010-11 and coached as his alma mater, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic High School, from 2007-09. He spent the previous 10 years as a scout and coach in the New York Yankees minor league system.

Botelho brings more than 35 years of coaching experience as he enters his first season with the Marlins organization. In 2014, he was the Braves minor league pitching rehabilitation instructor where he was based out of the team facility located in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and worked with minor league pitchers on rehab. Botelho previously served as pitching coach for six Braves affiliates, including the Mississippi Braves in the 2007-08 seasons. Botelho was the pitching coach for the U.S. team in the Future’s Game during the 2009 season. Before the Braves organization, Botelho spent 12 seasons as a pitching coach in the Reds’ organization and 10 years as a player and coach in the Venezuelan winter leagues.

Originally drafted as a shortstop in 1974 by Philadelphia, Betelho eventually signed as a pitcher in 1976 with the Phillies. He compiled more than 100 wins in the minor leagues, and had two stints in the majors in 1982 (Kansas City Royals) and in 1985 (Chicago Cubs). Botelho pitched for the Suns when they were a Royals affiliate during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, combining for 102 innings of work.

Roman is in his ninth year overall as a trainer in the Marlins organization. Before the Marlins, he worked in the Texas Rangers organization (2003-06), while also serving as an athletic trainer for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic in 2009 and 2013 and for Team Panama in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Smith is in his second year in the Marlins organization as strength and conditioning coordinator after working previously at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Ga. Prior to his time in Georgia, Smith was a strength coach with minor league teams in the San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals organizations.

The Jacksonville Suns open the season on April 9 to kick off a 20-game home stand at Bragan Field. Season tickets, group outings and sponsorship opportunities for the 2015 season are available by contacting the Suns front office at 904-358-2846 or visiting the team website at jaxsuns.com.

20-Game Homestand Highlights April in Jacksonville

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By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

Jacksonville Suns baseball fans will have plenty of opportunities to watch the club early in the season, as the Suns will start the regular season with the first 20 games being played at Bragan Field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

In addition to the April 4 exhibition against the Miami Marlins at Bragan Field, a scheduling twist has given added home dates to an already packed April schedule in Jacksonville.

The Suns were set to start the year with a 10-game homestand, first welcoming the Jackson Generals starting with Opening Night on April 9 before the Montgomery Biscuits come in for five games beginning on April 15.

The Suns were slated to travel to Biloxi for the inaugural series of Biloxi Shuckers baseball at MGM Park, but construction delays have forced the Shuckers to alter their April and May schedule, so that series has been moved to Bragan Field.

The Shuckers will be the home team for the five games beginning on April 20, and will wear home uniforms and will go into the boxscore as the home club, despite the Suns playing the games in their home ballpark.

Following the series with Biloxi, the 20-game homestand will conclude with a five-game series with the Birmingham Barons from April 25 to 29.

The month of April won’t truly all be in Jacksonville, with the Suns playing their first true road game of the season on April 30 against the Chattanooga Lookouts in Tennessee. But 20 regular season games and 21 games all together with the Marlins exhibition makes for quite the historic start to the season as the Suns get settled in for the 2015 campaign.

The Suns and Shuckers were also scheduled to meet at MGM Park from May 16 to the 20, however that series has been moved to Joe Davis Stadium in Huntsville, Alabama, the previous home of the Huntsville Stars. The Stars franchise moved to Biloxi this offseason, and Joe Davis Stadium will be hosting its final baseball games this season with expected demolition of the 1985 structure set by the end of the year.

With these scheduling twists, the Suns and Shuckers will not face each other in Biloxi this season, making the earliest meeting possible in 2016 barring a South Division Championship Series meeting in the 2015 playoffs.

The Shuckers will also face the Mississippi Braves at Trustmark Park with Biloxi serving as the home team in early May, and other home series have been scheduled for the Shuckers in Huntsville. According to a Shuckers press release, an occupancy date for MGM Park has not been set, but Biloxi will give a seven-day notice to the Southern League to move games to Biloxi once the park is ready to open.

Tickets are available for the April 20-game homestand along with the April 4 exhibition with the Miami Marlins on http://www.jaxsuns.com or by calling the Suns box office at (904) 358-2846.