TROY — Who ever said youth was a bad thing?
Youth will surely be seen in the dugouts of this weekend’s Tri-City ValleyCats three-game set this weekend against the Hudson Valley Renegades.
The series is a noteworthy one, as it will see the two youngest managers in affiliated baseball face each other. It’s known around the area that ValleyCats manager Jason Bell, 27, is the second-youngest manager, but he’s not even the youngest skipper in his league.
That distinction would go to Renegades manager Blake Butera, who is 25, two years younger than Bell.
Butera got his coaching start later than Bell. Butera was drafted as a utility infielder in 2015, but it was quickly seen by him and the Tampa Bay Rays organization, of whom the Renegades team is part of, that he should go into coaching. He spent the 2017 season as an assistant coach for the Renegades before being named the manager during spring training.
“This year in spring training, the job opened up and they offered me the position, and I happily accepted it,” Butera said prior to Thursday’s series-opening game at Joe Bruno Stadium.
However, it is not something he tries to think about too much.
“I just go about my business and do my job of helping prepare our guys the best I can, the best we can as a staff,” he added.
Before Thursday, the two had never met, but did meet before Thursday’s game in the hitting cages at the stadium to talk about how they got their respective jobs and how their starts to managing have gone, both being in their first years of managing a team.
“We had a good conversation about things,” Butera said. “It’s always interesting to talk to another manager, but yet alone another manager as young as he is and just hear his side of things and what he thinks about his experience so far.”
Bell said of the pair’s pregame meeting, “We talked a little bit. Not sharing too much but just talking about hit and runs, things like that. We’re kind of on the same page about that and maybe that’s because of the era we grew up in, maybe it’s just who we are, coincidence, but he seems like a really good guy and I’m sure he’s a pretty good manager too.”
The series between the two teams and skippers will continue into the next two days following Thursday’s game. The teams will play each other again to finish off the rest of the series on Friday and Saturday in Troy.