By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
WILLIAMSPORT -- From Thurman Munson to Johnny Bench to Buster Posey, catchers by nature are natural leaders.
It should come as no suprise when new Williamsport Crosscutters skipper Nelson Prada, a former catcher with the Minnesota Twins who has a winning record in six of his eight seasons as a manager, had a very short answer when asked about his expectations for the team this season.
"The ring," he said in reference to winning the New York-Penn League title.
The Cutters will begin their 15th season in Williamsport and seventh as the Single-A short-season farm team of the Philadelphia Phillies tomorrow at State College.
The home opener for the Cutters at Historic Bowman Field is set for Tuesday at 7:05 p.m., also against State College.
Williamsport was 30-46 last year, the second-worst record in the league. As a team, they were fourth in batting average (.249) and last in pitching with an earned run average of 4.42.
"We want the guys to compete and we want the guys to work hard," Prada said. "A lot of baseball people say you don't have to win, you have to develop players. I think when you are winning, you are developing players."
Last season, the Cutters longest winning streak was four games, which occurred twice. They lost four or more games in a row on seven different occasions.
"If they are coming to the ball park every day and their record is 20-5, it is different when the record is 5-20. I always talk to the guys about winning. We are in the baseball business and we need to win," Prada said. "I told the guys that we are going to play 70 games and all I want is a chance to win in the ninth inning. For me, I can go 0-and-70 and if we have the tying run at the plate in the last inning, that means we competed that day."