E-Twins open with Greeneville tonight   

By Wes Holtsclaw
star staff

  Hey Appalachian League, are you ready? The Elizabethton Twins are.
  Throughout the past week, Elizabethton manager Ray Smith has gotten a glimpse of the new talent that invades Carter County for the rest of the summer.
  There are some familiar faces, guys looking to work their way up and guys who have been touted across the country.
  On paper it looks like a good squad.
  "Sometimes what looks good on paper doesn't pan out. Nothing comes easy," said Elizabethton manager Ray Smith on Sunday. "We're going to have to show up early every day with a positive frame of mind and try to learn something out here. We want these guys to be successful and you do that by getting these guys to get the most out of the abilities they've been blessed with.
  "As part of the coaching staff, we want to teach a thing or two to these guys to get them to maximise their potential. We'll see when the bell rings and the umpire says 'play ball.'
  After a week of work in Fort Myers, Fla., practice and preparation got underway this weekend in town for the Elizabethton unit, which opens the season by hosting the Greeneville Astros tonight.
  "I saw them in a game or two of the intrasquad games we've been playing (in Florida)," Smith said. "(Right now) they're trying to learn a little more about me and I'm trying to put some faces with numbers and names with scouting reports. We're trying to acquaint ourselves with each other."
  Overall, the newcomers look to continue the winning tradition in town. But they must learn the faster pace very quickly.
  "We've got some athletes with pretty impressive backgrounds, but the pro game is a whole another ball of wax," added the manager. "We're trying to adjust them to wooden bats and the game speeds up and they'll find that out in their career. At one time they were a big fish in a small pond, now the pond is bigger and all of these guys can play. We'll see how they turn out."
  Overall, the players seemed focused on a new beginning as the defending league champions.
  Appalachian League President Lee Landers will be in town to present the Appy League pennant.
  It's only fitting that three of last year's Twins are able to take part in this year's festivities.
  Pitchers Chris Marini (6-1, 188 from Glendale, Arizona), a southpaw, Evan Meek (6-0, 205 from Bothell, Washington) and Dennis Medina (6-3, 194 from Cabimas Venezuela) will again suit up for Elizabethton.
  "It's kind of good to come in the season knowing we won it last year and it's good to have that expirience to win it again," said Meek. "The team this year is good and we think it's going to be equal to, or as good as the team last year. I'm excited about the game."
  "I think we should be very good this year," added Marini. "Coming in, last year was my first year and I didn't get to see any of the guys before I got here. I got to work out with these guys back in Florida and it looks like we're going to have another solid year."
  There are 14 first year professional players on this year's line-up, with the remainder of the athletes having at least a year or two of expirience.
  Pitching for this year's team is Kyle Aselton (Corvallis, Calif.), Jason Bowlin (Fairfield, Ohio), Steven Duguay (Fleetwood, N.C.), Matthew Fox (Coral Springs, Fla.), Kris Lankford (Altus, Okla.), Marini, Javier Martinez (Maracaibo, Venezuela), Jonathan Martinez (Metairie, La.), Frank Mata (Barcelona, Venezuela), Medina, Meek, Jeffery Mousser (Tempe, Ariz.), David Shinskie (Kulpmont, Penn.), Alexander Smith (Eindhoven, Netherlands) and John Williams (Murfreesboro).
  Catching are Heath Anderson (Panama City, Fla.), Timothy Lahey (Worcester, Massichusetts) and Javier Sanchez (Miami Fla.).
  At infield Luke Hughes (Morley, Australia), Patrick Ortiz (Maunabo, Puerto Rico), Trevor Plouffe (Northridge, Calif.), Matt Tolbert (Woodville, Miss.), David Winfree (Virginia Beach, Va.), Johnny Woodard (Fairfield, Calif.) and Jay Yaconetti (Gilbert, Ariz.).
  Outfielders include Deacon Burns (Brownwood, Texas), Landon Burt (Bermuda Dunes, Calif.), Javier Lopez (Juan Diez, Puerto Rico), Tarrence Patterson (Bartow, Fla.) and Jeremy Pickrel (Normal, Ill.).
  Each of the returning players from last year had good things to say about Elizabethton.
  "I'm excited to be back," Meek said. "It's good to be back somewhere you are familiar with and the fans here are great. I'm glad to come back and work on some things and hope to get out of here soon."
  Medina said he was "eager" to get going on the mound for the team.
  If you think the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees are the winningest professional baseball teams in the past 15 years, think again.
  Since 1989, the distinct honor of America's winningest baseball city is none other than Elizabethton.
  Twins radio announcer Frank Santore did strenuous research by combining all of the teams from the rookie leagues all the way to the top Major League and took their winning percentages for the last 15 years.
  Elizabethton led professional baseball with a .614 winning percentage. The Braves had a .578 while the Yanks chime in at .553.
  At 7 p.m., Joe O'Brien Field is the site of tonight's season opener and Appy League championship rematch against the Greeneville Astros.
  Greeneville won the East Division last season in Martinsville before falling to Elizabethton in two straight games at home in the championship series.
  The Tim Bogar-coached squad returns a few familiar faces from last season, but are led by a strong rookie outfielder in Jordan Parraz, who was taken with the team's third-round selection this year.
  Cliff Davis and former third-round pick Anthony Pluta are familiar pitchers for the unit.
  As of Sunday afternoon, Marini is expected to get the start for the Twins on the mound to open up the season.
  "We're leaning towards the guy from last year. He got some big wins for us, Chris Marini," said Smith. "As we try to sort out our rotation, we think we're going to run him out there tomorrow."
  The year of expirience favors the 21-year-old.
  "Being here for a year definitely allows us to know what to expect in our second season," Marini said. "I feel better prepared for this season than I did last year."
  The game will be sponsored by the Elizabethton STAR, with free admission to everyone.
  If you are unable to attend, Santore's broadcast will be available on WBEJ-AM and on Teamline.