JACONA — Sunny and balmy took a vacation last weekend, but Bryson Sims didn’t seem to care about the bluster and cold with which Northern New Mexico welcomed the Santa Fe Fuego.

When the Pecos League team broke from its training camp in Taos (Fort Marcy Ballpark was getting groomed for the upcoming season) and ventured to Pojoaque Valley High School, the Fuego were greeted with wind gusts of up to 40 mph. Monday traded wind for cold and rain, as they went through practice in 50-degree temperatures.

When the team convened at Fort Marcy for a final practice before Wednesday’s season opener against the Taos Blizzard, snow postponed that activity.

None of that made an impression on Sims’ career choice at the moment.

“Honestly, I’d play baseball every day of my life, if I could,” said the Santa Fe outfielder and “elder” statesman.

Sims is one of five holdovers from last year’s team that went 36-31 and finished just a half-game out of the Pecos League playoffs in its second season. But the 25-year-old from Griffin, Ga., will likely see his last season with the Fuego and the Pecos League, thanks to a new policy that institutes an age limit of 25 on its players.

It’s a loose one at that, however. Santa Fean and 50-year-old Rodney Tafoya, who just won his 300th professional game last week, will pitch at Alpine, Texas. According to the Fuego’s roster, it has a 27-year-old in outfielder Charles Johnson.

Still, Santa Fe manager Bill Moore said that makes it tough for clubs to develop chemistry when holdovers might have just one or two more season to play. This year’s roster has five holdovers, including Sims.

“A lot of the guys you get are 23, 24, 25, and the next year they are ineligible,” Moore said. “The other issue is that you get in that same age area, and you start thinking, ‘Hmmmm, I got to get on with my life.’ From last year’s group, I had two guys I called who are going back to finish their doctorate [degrees], one guy that said he got hired by Wells Fargo with a starting salary of $62,000 a year, so ‘Oh yeah, come play for me. It’s not that much, but it sure is fun.’

“Oh, and two guys are getting married. You’re not going to get those guys back.”

So, Moore has a wide-ranging roster of players, with only one New Mexican one the roster. Outfielder David Brandt hails from Waterbury, Connecticut. Pitcher Ivan Alejandro Velazques Vasquez is from Mexico City. In all, 18 states and two countries (the United States and Mexico) are represented on the 22-man roster.

Sims admits it makes communicating a bit of a challenge, just from trying to understand everybody’s dialect.

“Their lingos, they way they carry themselves, you gotta pick people up,” Sims said. “I’m from Georgia, and people have a hard time understanding me here when I get in the moment and just start talking. All my words run together. It’s pretty fun to pick people out and give them nicknames.”

What has Moore’s attention is his pitching staff. He feels he has seven solid starters to choose from, including newcomers Andrew Shoulders and Alex Teal, and plans on using a five-man rotation.What he likes about his rotation is its attention to detail.

“They throw strikes, they don’t monkey around,” Moore said. “Here’s the ball. Hit it.”

If they do their part, Moore plans to put the ball in the hands of closer Hobie McClain, a Roswell Goddard standout who played at UNM from 2012-13.


u Fox Sports 1 premiered a six-part documentary titled The Pecos League on Tuesday, which focuses on the Trinidad Triggers during their 2013 campaign. Both Sims and Moore said they are interested in watching the series to see how the league, its players and coaches are portrayed. Sims admits that players are often caught up in the day-to-day routine, and will find it interesting how their lives look from an outsider’s perspective.

“I just play ball, I don’t watch it,” Sims said. “So it will be interesting to see how everything goes down.”

Moore said he tried to avoid the camera crews last year, and didn’t hide behind the fact that he didn’t want to be a part of the series.

“I was a little stand-offish with them all summer long,” Moore said. “Every time they tried to do something on me, I always thought, ‘You need to put the players on the show.’ I’m an old man, I don’t need to be on TV. Put some good-looking young guy that’s got a chance to go play some place.”

u Moore said about five players are still looking for host families for the season. Those interested in that should contact Fuego president Yvonne Encinias, at 204-2093 or send a message through the team’s Facebook page.

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