Sports Zone, Springfield

Embree takes control of Drifters in Year 3

SPRINGFIELD – Just before the Springlfield Drifters held their media day on Monday at Hamlin Sports Complex, season-altering news was released by the team. 

Tommy Richards, the Drifters’ head coach since their inception, unexpectedly stepped down and was replaced by assistant coach Alan Embree – a World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox and head coach at Springfield High School.

Despite the abrupt coaching change, players said the team is ready to compete. 

“I’m pretty new with coach Embree,” said first-year Drifters player Kedren Kinzie. “But he’s a really good coach who knows what he’s talking about. I’m just trying to take in all of the information that he gives and put it on the field.”

Embree was unable to attend the media day with reporters. He joined the Drifters staff roughly a year ago as a friend of Richards. This season, Embree will continue without Richards – but given his prior knowledge of the team, it’s possible the team doesn’t skip a beat. 

“We have a great head coach, it’s gonna be a lot of fun,” said outfielder Ryder Dykstra. “I’m really pumped, we have a really good squad of guys here this year. We’re really breaking it in and I feel like we’re gonna do some good things this summer. I’m really looking forward to it.”

After going 1-2 in their away stretch vs. Yakima to open the season, the team is ready for their home opener on Tuesday (after The Chronicle’s weekly press deadline). Going into the opening weekend of games, players said they are focused on making the right adjustments.

“(Embree) had some good things for me yesterday,” pitcher Tyler Biddinger said. “I went over and asked him in the middle of my outing yesterday like, ‘Hey, I’m leaving my slider up or I’m yanking it really bad.’ And he’s like, ‘Look you need to change your focal point.’ And that’s definitely a tool I’m going to be using over the summer time. He’s very knowledgeable about the game. Obviously he’s an MLB veteran and won the World Series, so he knows his stuff.”

Players interact with fans at Drifters games, creating a family-friendly environment. Special promotions are a big part of games at the ballpark, too.



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