The weather on Media Day for the Normal CornBelters of the Frontier League on May 3 was something more appropriate for April, possibly even late March: Cold, gusty winds, and a threat of rain. As a result, new manager Billy Horn abbreviated the session and made sure his team got their work done plus took care of the obligatory head shots used on the scoreboard and by the media.

With Brooks Carey moving on from the CornBelters to manage the New Jersey Jackals of the Can-Am League, Normal hired Billy Horn during the off-season to serve as the new manager. Last season with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League, another independent baseball league, Horn served as pitching coach and assisted in player procurement related activities. During the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Horn was pitching coach and oversaw player procurement for the Ottawa Champions of the CanAm League as a part of Manager Hal Lanier’s staff. In 2016, Billy helped Ottawa to a CanAm League Championship. Lanier was Normal’s very first manager when the team debuted in 2010. Horn began his managerial career in 2012 with the Roswell Invaders of the Pecos League in 2012.

By the time you read this, the ‘Belters will have played five exhibition games under their skipper as preparation for opening day on Friday when Traverse City comes to The Corn Crib for a three-game series.

“We’re going to come out and play hard, and our expectations, obviously, are to win as many ball games as we can and give this city a chance at a Frontier League title,” Horn said. There are 35 men in spring training and Horn has been conducting evaluations to try to get that roster down to 24 by opening day.

Six of the players on ‘Belters roster are returning players who have demonstrated what they can do: Pitchers Anthony Herrara, Scott Sebald, Jonathan DeMarte, and Matt Portland; and infielders Justin Fletcher and Santiago Chirino.

Horn said he and Brooks Carey have a similar managerial style, so playing for him, he feels “will be an easy transition” for the team.

Justin Fletcher: Pekin native Justin Fletcher is the closest central Illinois native who will be slugging away at the plate for the CornBelters this year. His first season with Normal began midway through the 2016 season. “Billy’s a great guy,” said Fletcher, an infielder who has divided his time between playing second and third. “You can see he cares about his players, so we’re all excited to get this season going.”

Santiago Chirino’s Last Season Here: CornBelters fans have become accustomed to watching Santiago Chirino bring in runs at the plate and prevent opposing scoring while in the infield. But because he will turn 27 during the next offseason, under Frontier League rules, 2018 will be his last as a member of the CornBelters. He began his career in Normal in 2013.

“I want to win a championship,” Chirino said as the chief goal for his teammates and himself at the end of this season. “That’s something I want to give this organization, to the town, and to the fans.”

League Continues Taking Mondays Off: The Frontier League continues taking Mondays off for most of the season. Games at The Corn Crib will start with first pitches at 7:05p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and at 6:05p.m. for Sunday games. The gates open one hour prior to first pitch.

This entry was posted on Friday, May 4th, 2018 at 10:16 pm and is filed under Normal Cornbelters, The Normalite. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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