You've worn the Trash Pandas gear. You've watched the stadium pop up off Interstate 565. More than likely, you've been to a non-baseball event at Toyota Field over this past year, but it's finally time to play ball!
The Trash Pandas start their season Tuesday at Chattanooga. It gives the team a chance to get some games in before their big return to the Rocket City for the home opener May 11.
One of the faces you'll see all summer is Torii Hunter Jr. The 25-year-old outfielder has only been in North Alabama for about 48 hours, but he's still seen enough to know he has top-notch facilities.
"It's unbelievable. When I first saw the stadium driving in from the airport, it's unbelievable," Hunter said. "They did a really good job here. The front office has been awesome. The marketing team has been amazing. I've been seeing social media posts for two-three years. The excitement has been building up."
Hunter said he can't wait to be part of the community here.
The Trash Pandas will play six games in Chattanooga before their home opener May 11.
During Media Day on Monday, Manager Jay Bell said his goal is to both win games and develop players. He added his team is tired of not playing real ball games.
Since there was no MiLB season last summer, many of the Trash Pandas' players had to do a lot of training from home, including first baseman David MacKinnon, who is gearing up for his first year in AA ball.
"I think everybody is just excited in general. Most of us didn't get to play last year. Just to be back on the field and get to play in front of people, that's pretty fun, you know," MacKinnon said.
The season opener is Tuesday night in Chattanooga. The contest against the Lookouts begins at 6:15 p.m. central time.