Bisons packed with experience & promise

Buffalo will host Syracuse in the season opener Thursday at 3:05 p.m.

The 2011 Bisons will feature 19 players with major league experience, including 12 that played at the game’s top level last season. That list includes nine players who spent time with the Mets in 2010.

The 2011 squad also features 18 players who spent time in Buffalo last season. Combined, the Herd will welcome back 618 hits, 70 home runs, 278RBI, 34 wins and 462 strikeouts thrown from last year’s Bisons team.

RELEASE: Bisons, Mets announce full opening day roster

 The Herd will open the 2011 season on Thursday, April 7 against the Syracuse Chiefs at Coca-Cola Field (3:05 p.m.).

Buffalo’s Opening Day starter, RHP DILLON GEE, struck out a modern era single-season record 165 batters last season and LHP PAT MISCH post the third lowest ERA (3.23) in the International League in 2010. They will be joined in a star-studded starting rotation by Mets’ Baseball America Top Prospect, 21-year old RHP JENRRY MEJIA, and former big leaguers, RHP BOOF BONSER and LHP CASEY FOSSUM.

The entire 2011 Bisons outfield are returnees. OF FERNANDO MARTINEZ (Baseball America #8 Prospect) has hit 20 home runs with the team over the past two years while OF JESUS FELICIANO has the second-highest average (.323) in the Bisons’ modern era. OF KIRK NIEUWENHUIS (Baseball America #5 Prospect) hit 18 home runs between Double-A and the Bisons last season and OF JASON PRIDIE led the 2010 Herd with nine stolen bases.

INF JUSTIN TURNER returns after finishing fifth in the International League with a .316 average between the Bisons and Norfolk last season. He’ll be joined by INF RUBEN TEJADA, who hit .280 in 65 games with Buffalo in 2010. INF RUSS ADAMS led last year’s club with 58RBI and INF VALENTINO PASUCCI clubbed 17 home runs in Buffalo. INF ZACH LUTZ hit 17 home runs with Binghamton before his last season promotion to the Bisons and INF NICK EVANS hit .314 in 37 games with the Bisons in 2010.

The catching duties in 2011 will be split between 38-year old veteran RAUL CHAVEZ and Triple-A rookie SALOMON MANRIQUEZ.

In the bullpen, the Bisons return their top two relievers from a season ago. LHP MIKE O’CONNOR fanned 70 in 70.2 innings of work, while RHP JOSE DE LA TORRE posted a 2.98ERA in 36 relief appearances. Six-time minor league All-Star, RHP DALE THAYER joins the Herd from the Rays’ organization. RHP MANNY ALVAREZ, LHP JUSTIN HAMPSON, RHP RYOTA IGARASHI and LHP TAYLOR TANKERSLEY round out the club’s bullpen

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