FARGO — Left-handed pitcher Will Solomon is set to play in his fourth season with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks for a third different manager.
While there has been turnover on the bench during his time with the American Association baseball club, Solomon said there's still a familiar feel.
“The RedHawks culture itself hasn’t really changed,” Solomon said Tuesday afternoon during the team’s annual media day at Newman Outdoor Field.
The RedHawks hired Jim Bennett as the team’s manager this offseason. Bennett replaced Michael Schlact, who took a coaching job in the Milwaukee Brewers organization after one full season as F-M’s manager. Prior to that, Doug Simunic led the team for 22 seasons.
“For the players, the No. 1 thing I want to get across is that we play to win baseball games,” said Bennett, who was named the team’s third manager in franchise history in March. “Along with that, I want them to know that I’m here for them.”
The RedHawks finished with a 51-49 record last season under Schlact. The team hasn’t qualified for the postseason since 2013, even though it’s posted a record above .500 the past three seasons.
“You always come into a season wanting to win the whole thing,” RedHawks outfielder Devan Ahart said. “Playoffs are where it starts, but it also starts at Day 1. I think we have the core guys.”
While the RedHawks have a new manager in Bennett, there is plenty familiar with the team. Hitting coach Chris Coste and assistant coach Anthony Renz return from last season. In addition, about half the players on the team’s current 25-man roster played for the RedHawks at some point last season, including Solomon and Ahart.
“There is a good group of core players back,” Bennett said. “They’re really going to be able to set the tone for this team.”
Ahart batted .295 with 11 home runs and 48 RBIs in 99 games for the RedHawks last season. Brennan Metzger and Tim Colwell also return in the outfield, joining Ahart. Colwell batted .320 in 83 games and Metzger hit .282 in 95 games.
“They’re all about winning,” Bennett said of that outfield trio. “It always goes back to that.”
Bennett will oversee the pitching staff for the RedHawks as he’s been a pitching coach for various minor league teams, stating in the early 1990s. Most recently, he coached in the Australian Baseball League and will remain as the pitching coach for the Australian National Team.
Bennett was a minor league baseball player for 13 years as a left-handed pitcher. His goal is to have a team that is detail-oriented.
“What I would like for my team to be known as, is a team that does things right,” Bennett said.
Solomon was 10-7 with a 4.18 ERA in 19 starts for the RedHawks last season. He has a 21-15 mark in his three previous seasons with F-M.
Solomon said Bennett has made a good first impression as the team’s manager.
“I like him,” Solomon said. “He’s a pitching guy, I’m a pitcher, so I like it. He’s very professional and straight to the point. We get what we need done, there’s no sitting around. … I can tell that this is going to be a good team.”