Nationals Minors: New beginnings for Syracuse Chiefs this spring

Brock Peterson is just one of the names that came up at the Syracuse Chiefs Hot Stove Dinner on Jan. 31. - Dustin Bradford

With a new manager and a new PDC in place, the No. 5 starting pitcher battle, the contest for the job at second base, and prospects are all in play for Syracuse this spring

There are a lot of new things happening this year for the Syracuse Chiefs.

New ownership, a new four-year deal with the major league affiliate Washington Nationals, new coaching staff on the bench, a couple of new faces in the clubhouse, and a lot of new questions.

Some of the front office staff in the Nationals and Chiefs organizations came together on Friday at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool and addressed all of those new connections at the 54th annual Chiefs Hot Stove Dinner.

Here are new Syracuse manager Billy Gardner Jr. (who has some ties to Central New York), director of Player Development Mark Scialabba (an Upstate New York guy), and Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Player Development Doug Harris (who enjoys spending time in Upstate New York...in the summer) talking about all of those new things along with the No. 5 Washington Starting Pitcher/Second Base battles that could affect Syracuse, and some names that could be on the 2014 Syracuse roster.

After a pair of seasons with Tony Beasley at the helm, the Nationals tapped Gardner Jr. to lead the Chiefs this season. Beasley is now a field coordinator in the Nationals organization.

Gardner Jr. has a career record of 1,262-1,249 as a manager in 19 minor league seasons. He has managed in the Red Sox, Royals, Reds, and Rays organizations as was most recently the skipper of Tampa Bay's Double-A affiliate Montgomery Biscuits from 2007-2013.

He was the 2012 Southern League Manager of the Year, but this will be his first season managing at the Triple-A level.

As for his playing days, he was in the Royals system in 1987-1988.

Hitting coach Joe Dillon and pitching coach Paul Menhart are also new to the Syracuse benches. The Chiefs start the 2014 season on April 3 against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at NBT Bank Stadium.

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