“If we had to we could probably play a game today,” said varsity coach Vic Alkire.
All three baseball teams — varsity, sophomores and freshmen — showed up Monday, Jan. 28, at Monte Vista on the first day that pitchers and catchers were allowed under Sac-Joaquin Section rules to begin working out.
Bats will come out on Monday, Feb. 4, which is the opening day for all spring sports practice.
Alkire was still waiting for concrete pads on the expanded dugouts, 80-foot batting cages and fencing around the field.
But the grass is green and level, the infield has a new layer of red clay, the bleachers are on-site and ready to be put in place, and new bullpens were ready for pitchers.
The varsity and freshman teams will alternate use of the restored field for game days once it’s complete.
The varsity team has started practicing on that field, while the freshmen and sophomore teams are practicing on two Babe Ruth baseball league fields adjacent to a second full-size field under construction for the sophomore team. It’s located on the north side of the restored field.
Sophomore coach Ryan Hern said Monday that his team will have to wait another year until they can practice and play at the second field.
Hern said he was “a little disappointed” with the condition of the practice field and was going to check with Tracy Unified School District officials on a timeline for improvements.
This season, the team will play its home games at Tracy Ball Park, West or Kimball highs.
On Monday, however, freshmen assistant coach Jerry Ortega and former coach Frank Marty weren’t going to wait.
They brought their own landscaping skills this week to improve their practice field.
“It’s all we get, so it’s got to be sufficient,” Ortega said.
The two men brought the cement blocks from Tracy High’s old bullpen and reassembled the practice mound at Monte Vista. Marty then outlined a pitcher’s mound and the edges of a 90-foot infield.
TUSD landscaping crews are ahead of a Feb. 22 deadline to finish the varsity field, according to Antonio By Goytia, irrigation specialist with Tracy Unified School District.
By Goytia and his crew trucked over 80 yards of red clay saved from Tracy High, plus another 20 yards of new clay for the base paths. That followed about three months of work on the field itself as they installed new irrigation lines, planted grass and put down sod where needed.
“Every single sprinkler we replaced it or adjusted it,” By Goytia said.
“What held us back was the rain. Otherwise it would be completed by now.”
Senior pitcher Jonah Wesely said on Monday that he thought the “new bullpen looks good, the mound looks good and the field looks good.”
“There’s a lot of construction, but everything will be just fine when the season comes around next month,” he said.
Feb. 22 is the opening day of the spring sports season. Tracy’s first home game is March 9 against Palo Alto High.
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.