HELENA – Monday is opening day for Pioneer League baseball clubs across Montana, Idaho, Utah and Colorado.

“I’m excited. I won’t be pitching but I’m very excited,” Helena Brewers’ pitcher Michael Petersen said of Monday’s opening day. “I love the atmosphere, I love that everyone comes out and everyone is pretty excited. Hopefully we can get a win and keep it rolling from there.”

Petersen is one of a handful of athletes returning to Helena for another year in the Brewers’ system. Like his teammates, he has a good understanding of where to improve his game to advance to the next level.

“Getting stronger. Last year my body tapered off and this year I’m hoping to have a good, strong, healthy season and hopefully bring a couple wins back and help out the team,” Petersen said. “More or less throwing strikes. I’ve been working on going up and down rather than just throwing down the middle. You tend to dodge barrels that way.”

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“We have a little bit of everything,” said pitching coach Rollando Valles. “We have strike throwers, we have guys who have some power and are developing command of their pitches. It’s a good mix.”

Valles spent the 2014 and 2015 summers in Helena before being assigned to Arizona last year. Returning to Kindrick Legion Field is special for him because of his relationship with the fans.

“In my previous years they have been very supportive,” said Valles. “I’m not expecting anything different than what I’ve seen in the past. I know the crowd and I know they’re loyal. I would just like to see them supporting us for the upcoming season and we’ll do our best to keep them entertained.”

Minor League Baseball is about more than wins and losses, entertainment and advancing. Rosters are truly a melting pot of athletes from all over North America, which can lead to communication barriers. But even those players with Spanish as their dominant language are prepared to help the team any way they can.

Read more at Montana Sports here.