FARGO — When the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks start the American Association baseball season Tuesday, May 18, manager Chris Coste will be more than 1,000 miles away from The Depot at Cleburne (Texas) Station.
That’s because Coste first needs to finish off the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference baseball season with the Concordia Cobbers, who are making their first conference postseason appearance since 2015.
“What makes this possible is because I have great people around me.” said Coste, who is also the head coach for the Cobbers. “The RedHawks have people behind the scenes prepared for this exact scenario. When you start a season with Concordia, there’s no way a coach would ever leave his college team in this scenario when we’re trying to do great things.”
The RedHawks open the 100-game regular season on the road against the Cleburne Railroaders at 7:06 p.m. Tuesday. At the same time, Coste will be preparing his Concordia team for a Wednesday game at St. Mary’s in the MIAC playoffs.
“I will be watching the game online because we (the Cobbers) don’t play or practice at that time,” Coste said.
RedHawks hitting coach Anthony Renz will be the acting F-M manager until Coste completes the Cobbers season. Renz is also a bench coach for Coste at Concordia.
“If we win, I get the wins. If we lose, he will take the interim losses,” Coste joked about Renz being the acting manager for the RedHawks.
RedHawks bullpen coach Robbie Lopez will also be with the team in Cleburne. Coste added player personnel consultant Jeff Bittiger to help get the team prepared for the season. F-M is projected to have a 22-man roster on opening day, including 11 pitchers.
“We’re confident with Anthony Renz and Robbie Lopez down there,” said RedHawks general manager Matt Rau.
When Coste had the interim tag removed as RedHawks manager around a month ago, the organization was aware that his Concordia season could overlap with the start of the American Association season.
“Once the Concordia season is over, the next day I’ll find a way to be wherever the RedHawks are at,” Coste said.
The RedHawks play their first six games on the road before their home opener. F-M hosts the Chicago Dogs at 7:02 p.m. May 25 at Newman Outdoor Field to start its home regular-season schedule. A season ago, the American Association didn’t start its regular season until July due to the coronavirus pandemic. The season was limited to 60 games.
“It’s definitely welcome to have a normal opening-day approach after everything we’ve been through,” Rau said of starting this season on time. “Anything normal is an amazing feeling.”
The RedHawks return one of the top hitters in the American Association in Correlle Prime, who batted .335 with eight doubles, four home runs and 31 RBIs in 60 games last season. Infielder Leo Pina is also a notable returner.
“You’re going to see an amazing Leo Pina this year,” Coste said.
Infielder John Silviano, who played for the St. Paul Saints last season, is also expected to make an impact in his first season with the RedHawks. The 6-foot, 220-pound Silviano batted .231 with six doubles, 14 home runs and 40 RBIs in 58 games with St. Paul last summer.
“When the ball jumps off his bat, it will actually scare you a little bit,” Coste said.
Coste said left-hander Tyler Pike and right-hander Kevin Herget are projected to be at the top of the team’s starting rotation.
“We really like the arms on our pitching staff,” Coste said.
The RedHawks posted a 28-32 record in last summer’s pandemic-shortened season in which Coste was the team’s interim manager.
During his absence, Coste is confident that Renz and Lopez will do a good job of running the RedHawks.
“Anthony coaches with me at Concordia so we’re together literally every day,” Coste said. “We have every scenario that we can account for. … They’re prepared.”