Sioux Falls, S.D. – Nearly ten months after announcing themselves to the baseball world, the Chicago Dogs are at last set to play ball as they travel to Sioux Falls, S.D. to take on the Sioux Falls Canaries in the first series in franchise history.
After playing four preseason exhibition games and whittling their roster to 22 active players on Thursday, the Dogs are ready for the games to count. The team will play a three game series against the Canaries beginning Friday, before traveling to St. Paul, Minn. for another three game series with the St. Paul Saints.
In the Canaries, the Dogs encounter a team excited for a clean slate, as 2017 saw the Canaries post their seventh straight losing season, finishing 45-55. In fact, only twice in the past seven seasons has Sioux Falls finished with 45 wins or more, having finished no higher than 10th in the American Association standings in a single season over the past seven years.
Mike Meyer returns in 2018 for his second season at the helm of the Canaries. The Canaries are Meyer’s first professional managerial gig, but he is not lacking for coaching experience, having previously served as the team’s pitching coach from 2007 to 2014.
The 2017 version of the Canaries featured a prolific offense, but a rocky pitching staff. Sioux Falls finished fifth in the American Association with 5.09 runs scored per game, and third in the league with 102 home runs, including 29 by Jabari Henry, tying him for the most in a single season in franchise history. The Birds’ pitching staff, on the other hand, finished with a 4.49 ERA in 2017—the fourth highest mark in the league.
Fourteen of the 22 Sioux Falls active roster members are returning from last year’s squad—giving the Canaries the most returning players of any team in the league.
On the other side, the Dogs will be led by long time baseball player, coach, and manager, Butch Hobson. The 2018 season marks Hobson’s 30th as a manager and his first in the American Association. Hobson boasts three league championships in those 30 seasons—two in the Atlantic League and one in the Can-Am League.
The Dogs active roster contains 12 position players and ten pitchers, with five of the 22 players hailing from the Chicagoland area. One of those players, Hinsdale, Ill. native Joe Benson, is the lone player on the Dogs Opening Day active roster to have amassed major league playing time, having enjoyed a short stint with the Minnesota Twins in 2011.
The pitching matchup for the season opener Friday will pit Dogs right-hander Josh Goossen-Brown against Canaries righty Grady Wood. Goossen-Brown was the first player acquired in Dogs history when he was traded to Chicago from the Wichita Wingnuts in January, while Wood will be making Friday’s start on his 28th birthday.
Saturday’s pitching matchup will feature a battle of southpaws as Dogs left-hander Kylin Turnbull faces Canaries lefty Joe Bircher. Sunday’s matinee is set to see Dogs right-hander, and Buffalo Grove, Ill. native, Scott Firth take on Canaries right-hander Dylan Thompson.
First pitch for Friday’s opener is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., Saturday’s scheduled first pitch is set for 6:05 p.m., and the series finale on Sunday has a scheduled first pitch time of 1:05 p.m.
Broadcasts of all Dogs game can be found online at www.thechicagodogs.com/broadcasts