The 20th anniversary of the Sioux City Explorers didn't quite go as planned a season ago. The X's were two games under .500 at home and struggled on the road winning just 21 games. Aside from the wins, there was one thing the team was lacking.
"Clubhouse chemistry, that's big for me, I think we were missing a little bit of that last year." Manger Stan Cliburn said. "I've been on 13 championship clubs, eight as a player and five as a manager and all the clubs I look back on were built on that."
"Last year I felt like it was more on a professional level, where we knew each other in the baseball aspect, but outside of that we didn't really know much about each other or get each other," Outfielder Peter Barrows added. "You have that chemistry in the clubhouse, you're going to have it on the field as well."
Heading into spring training, nine players are back from last season and there are 18 new faces, including veteran Palmer Karr. Cliburn is looking for leadership from the slugger to help build a stronger locker room.
"It means a lot that someone with Stan's experience would look to me in that kind of role. I'm going to do whatever I can to help make this team successful."
But, if there was an Achilles heel for the X's a year ago, it was pitching and defense. Sioux City ranked 9th in the league in ERA and struggled in the field, committing 98 errors.
"It was a little disappointing last year because we didn't play defense," Cliburn said. "I'm a firm believer in defense and pitching. That's what I'm building my team on this year. We'll take care of the rest offensively."
The X's play their first exhibition game on Monday against Sioux Falls in Yankton, South Dakota.
Sioux City's home opener is May 16th, which is also against the Canaries.
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