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Guelph Royals set to begin 2023 season with busy weekend

The Royals host Kitchener for its home opener Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Guelph Royals return to the field this weekend for the 2023 IBL season, and start the year with seven games in 12 days.

The Guelph Royals are going to be quite busy once their 2023 Intercounty Baseball League campaign gets underway.

They'll begin with a three-in-three weekend, with road games Friday and Sunday in Hamilton and Toronto respectively. Sandwiched in between is the team's home opener at Hastings Saturday afternoon against Kitchener. Game time is 1 p.m.

That kick starts a year where they'll play seven games in 12 days.

"(It's a) pretty daunting way to start the season when you're still waiting for players to come back from school, and just put things together," said field manager Dino Roumel. "But we're really confident."

Guelph is coming off a 31-11 record in 2022, part of a three-way tie for first with London and Welland.

The Majors won the one-game playoff to capture the regular season crown, and Guelph bowed out in the first round to Hamilton.

"We were really disappointed," he said. "Everybody uses the term 'unfinished business' (but) in every sport, every team except the winner feels like they have unfinished business to take care of."

He feels they'll be one of the teams to beat this year. Roumel said pitching will be a bright spot once again, though they'll begin the year without two big arms from 2022.

Emilis Guerrero has returned to his old stomping grounds in Barrie, and last year's league MVP Claudio Custodio won't be not coming back to Guelph until July, when he's done his year in Venezuela.

Instead, the rotation will be anchored by a pair of pitchers coming from the Detroit Tigers system to start the year.

Sandy Baez – who made 10 career major league appearances in 2018 and 2019 with the Tigers – and Canadian Kyle Thomas will lead the way.

Former Olympian Dario Alvarez, who has 56 major league appearances under his belt with the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers (2014-2017), will be available in the bullpen.

"Our imports are great, we're deep, we're looking at always making this club better so we're confident that we did," Roumel said. "We got some great Canadian arms that are coming in, they can throw hard as well."

On offense, the Royals picked up Dalton Pompey's younger brother Tristan.

Roumel is hoping to get the former Blue Jay Dalton back for a second season, but touted Tristan as a guy who can be a middle of the order, high impact player.

He admits the offense will be a little light to start, but sees it revolving around Tristan, returnee J.D. Williams and a bunch of young spark plugs.

"We're going to play a different style (of) game," Roumel said. "We're going to be a little more aggressive and I think it's going to be exciting for fans to watch."

He also confirmed Kyle Thomas will get the ball in Saturday's home opener against the Panthers.