State College Spikes

Spikes employees work behind the scenes to prepare for opening day

Dan Petrazzolo has been pulling 15-hour days in preparation for the Spikes home opener Monday.

There are all new players, a new manager and a new major league affiliate, but it’s business as usual for the director of ballpark operations.

He and his team spent Sunday replacing outfield signage, power washing seats, handing out uniforms and just generally getting ready for the first pitch of the season.

“There’s a level of excitement and anxiety,” he said. “I try not to take it home with me, but I’m almost having bad dreams thinking about what needs to be done.”

Preparations for the season began months ago, he said, but it still always gets busy right before showtime. Making sure everything is on schedule and getting name plates sewed on uniforms for last-minute roster additions can be stressful.

Petrazzolo said it becomes a challenge because the draft is right before the season, and rosters aren’t finalized in advance.

“It’s tough at this level because we don’t know who’s coming in,” he said.

But the Cardinals organization is excited to be back in State College, returning to the Spikes for the first time since 2006.

When the organization realized there might be a chance to get back in the area, John Vuch, director of minor league operations for the Cardinals, jumped on it.

He complimented the ballpark and the team Sunday, saying it will be a good fit for the Cardinals.

“We definitely expect them to be good representatives of this organization,” he said.

Vuch is hoping this time the partnership will last longer and grow in the coming years. He said the organization is very happy to be back.

And the team is just ready to get out on the field.

Pitcher Mitch Harris will be making his professional debut Monday after spending the past five years in the United States Navy. It has been a long time coming for Harris, who was drafted in 2008.

“I can’t even put into words how anxious I am getting back on the field again,” he said.

The feeling is similar for new manager Oliver Marmol.

The 26-year-old is excited to be in State College after visiting the town occasionally when he played with the Cardinals organization in 2007.

He said every time he visited the stadium, he wished he could be there full-time.

“Now that we get to call this home, we’re all very excited,” he said.