The Appalachian League begins play Tuesday night and in Danville, the Braves are turning to a former player to lead the team to success.
Anthony Nunez can still blend in with some of the players on the field.
But the former Braves catcher is about to step in to his biggest role yet — as Danville’s manager.
It’s a job Nunez quickly realizes comes with a lot of responsibility.
“It’s kinda tricky, because when they ask you when you want to be a manager, you say, oh yeah,” Nunez said. “But you don’t find out until you face your team, everybody’s there. You got to take care of your team, you got to take care of your players.”
Nunez is Danville’s third former Brave turned skipper. Originally signed by the Braves over a decade ago, the Dominican Republic-native ended his playing career with Lynchburg in 2014.
Now he’s passing along the many lessons he’s learned.
“Patience in this game. Always good attitude. Be strong mentally. Never give up,” Nunez said. “Always all the time you got to keep your head up.”
Even before a pitch has been thrown, the players say Nunez is already a manager they can relate to.
“He’s not trying to put too much pressure on anybody,” rookie Danville infielder Cody Milligan said. “Not trying to talk over anybody’s heads. He’s trying to keep it light in the dugout. Make sure everybody knows what he’s trying to say before sending us out there. So it’s real easy to learn from him.”
Nunez said he’s looking forward to a good effort from his team on Opening Night when the Braves take the field against the Princeton Rays.
And when asked how the anticipation as a manager of opening night compares to that of a player, Nunez said he’ll have an answer to that question after the first pitch is thrown.