New faces abound on RiverHawks’ roster
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May 18, 2010 - LOVES PARK, Ill. – Familiar faces are few on the roster that will take the field for the Rockford RiverHawks on Thursday.

Rockford’s only professional baseball team announced on Tuesday its Opening Night roster for its first season in the independent Northern League. The RiverHawks have just four players – outfielder Jason James (above), shortstop Jono Brooks and pitchers Kyle Wright and Brett Durand – back from their final season in the Frontier League. It’s the biggest turnover in the team’s nine-year history; 17 of the 23 players have never played for Rockford before.

The RiverHawks’ ninth season begins at 7:05 p.m. May 20 against the Schaumburg Flyers at Road Ranger Stadium.

Among the new faces are former major-leaguers Randall Simon and Mike Wood. Simon, a designated hitter/first baseman, is a former Chicago Cub and an eight-year big-league veteran. Wood pitched for Oakland, Kansas City and Texas during five years in the majors. Patrick O’Sullivan, a first baseman with five 20 home-run seasons in the minors, is also on the roster.

Two former RiverHawks have returned to the team. Outfielder Rich Austin, the Frontier League Player of the Year in 2004, when the RiverHawks won Rockford’s only professional baseball title in the last 50 years, signed last September. Pitcher Mike McTamney, who spent part of 2008 with the RiverHawks, signed Monday.

James, a first-team member of Baseball America magazine’s All-Independent Leagues Team, is back after a stint in spring training with the Chicago Cubs. He led the Frontier League in hitting last season and is the RiverHawks’ all-time leader in average, hits, home runs and most other hitting categories. He and Wright were all-stars last year. Wright and Durand became the first pair of 10-game winners in team history. Brooks stole 30 bases.

The RiverHawks are members of the Northern League, an eight-team independent professional baseball league in its 18th season this summer. Advertising and ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Games are broadcast live on ESPN 1380 (WTJK-AM) and on ESPN1380.com. Fans can also visit the RiverHawks online at www.rockfordriverhawks.com.
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