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Durham Bulls begin 2024 season with new food, players and field at the DBAP


Tuesday night marks the Durham Bulls' 2024 home opener against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at Durham Bulls Athletic Park [DBAP], home of the Durham Bulls since 1995. The gates open at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

I'm just excited to see our fans again, Bulls general manager Tyler Parsons said. We can't wait to get this season going.

Tuesday night's game will feature postgame fireworks. Plus, Ripken the Bat Dog returns to retrieve bats from the Bulls' dugout.

It opens a six-game homestand for the Bulls against the Jumbo Shrimp.

Durham Bulls fans can purchase tickets for the homestand on the team's website. Ticket prices start at $10.

What's new in 2024 at the DBAP The Bulls will play on a new field in 2024 at the DBAP. The new sod is grown by Charlotte-based Carolina Green.

It is the same type of sod used by NFL teams across the country. It's laid on top of a layer of plastic.

Because of the plastic, the roots can't grow down, assistant DBAP property manager Scott Strickland said in February. They grow sideways and interlock in one another.

Crews will use special carts gently to push the heavy grass layers together with no visible gaps.

You know this is essentially, this field is a USGA putting green, Strickland said. That's the science and technology that the whole field is built off of.

The entire field is brand new, Parsons said. We're really excited about that.

Fans will also have new food options in 2024, including pork-on-pork nachos, Carolina dogs, burgers, hot pretzels, cheesesteaks and chicken cheesesteaks and pulled pork parfait.

Need help deciding on what specifically to eat? Click or tap here to view the 2024 DBAP Concessions Map

The Bulls are featuring several promotional nights, including Dollar Dog Thursdays, Star Wars night on April 27 and Sundays where kids ages 12 and younger can run the bases after the game.

We've got a lot of fun, new things for the fans to see at the stadium, Parsons said.

WRAL will be live at the DBAP for the Durham Bulls' home opener WRAL reporter Kelsey Coffee will be live on Tuesday at the DBAP on WRAL News Morning News. She will have live interviews starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

WRAL meteorologist Kat Campbell will also be live starting at noon ET Tuesday to preview the Bulls' home opener. She'll also be live on WRAL News at 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

On FOX 50 at 10 and WRAL News at 11 p.m., catch the full highlights from the opener.

Forecast for Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for the Durham Bulls' home opener.

Durham Bulls' expectations and players to watch in 2024 The Bulls lost their first two games of the 2024 season against the Norfolk Tides on the road. However, the Bulls won Sunday's game 17-5.

The Bulls serve as the AAA affiliate for the Tampa Bay Rays, who are renowned for having one of the best farm systems in MLB.

The Bulls' roster is highlighted by infielder Junior Caminero, who is the No. 1 prospect in the Rays' system and enters the season as the No. 4 prospect on MLB's Top 100 list. Caminero, 20, made his MLB debut in September 2023 for the Rays after a call-up from Double-A Montgomery.

Caminero represented the Rays in the 2023 Futures Game, and he was the MVP of the Southern League while playing for new Bulls manager Morgan Ensberg.

Ensberg, 48, succeeds Michael Johns, who was promoted to first base coach with the Rays during the offseason.

In the last four seasons, Ensberg took the Rays' Double-A affiliate Montgomery Biscuits to the playoffs.

As a player, Ensberg spent parts of eight seasons in MLB, playing primarily for the Houston Astros, alongside Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.

In 2005, Ensberg was a National League All-Star.

The expectation is to compete for championships here in Durham, Parsons said.

Last season, the Bulls lost the International League championship to the Norfolk Tides.

In 2021 and 2022, the Bulls won the International League championship.

The Bulls return nine pitchers from the 2023 season - Trevor Brigden, Carlos Garcia, Jacob Lopez, Enmanuel Mejia, Mason Montgomery, Erasmo Ramirez, Manuel Rodriguez, Justin Sterner and Nathan Wiles.

Lopez and Ramirez both logged time with the Rays.

Wiles' seven wins was most on 2023 Bulls' pitching staff, while Brigden's 95 strikeouts led the team.

Some other position players for the Bulls are Logan Driscoll, Osleivis Basabe, Ronny Simon, Ruben Cardenas, Alex Jackson and Kameron Misner. All spent time with the Bulls in 2023; Cardenas and Misner played the full 2023 season with Durham.

Basabe, 23, made his major league debut with the Rays last August after hitting .296 in 94 games with the Bulls.

Misner had a 20-20 campaign (21 HR, 21 SB), while Cardenas was third on the squad with 22 home runs and second in RBI with 82.

The pitching newcomers are Kevin Kelly, who spent the entire 2023 season with the Rays, 10-year major league veteran Jake Odorizzi, who pitched for the Bulls in 2013, Joe Record, Michael Gomez, Joe Rock, Edwin Uceta and Colby White.

The new Bulls' position players are Rob Brantly, C.J. Hinojosa, Niko Goodrum, Jake Mangum and Tristan Peters and Yu Chang, who will open the season on the injured list.

Thanks to WRAL-TV's Mark Bergin for this CapCom story & to for these CapCom graphics.
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