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Sports

Canal Park familiar grounds for new Ducks skipper

4/3/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

Work at Canal Park continues on the Tiki Terrace, a new picnic area in right field.
David Wallace, a former catcher for the Akron Aeros, will be taking the helm of the Akron RubberDucks in 2014.
Brian Manning, the RubberDucks’ director of food and beverage, holds the team’s latest extreme food item, the Pineapple TeriyAKRON Bowl, during media day March 31 at Canal Park. Grilled chicken, white rice and diced pineapple are placed in a hollowed out pineapple, with teriyaki sauce added to the mix. A close up of the new food option is shown below.
Photos: Craig Marks
DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Akron RubberDucks’ Media Day event, held March 31 at Canal Park, began with a display of the ballpark’s unique cuisine.

Among the items presented was the Pineapple TeriyAKRON Bowl, a pineapple-rice-chicken dish that will be available for $11 at the Nice to Meat U Grill located behind the left field fence.

When Dave Wallace was a catcher for the team, back when it was known as the Akron Aeros, the food came delivered.

“When we were out in the bullpen, my wife would get Luigi’s and walk over there and drop it down to us,” said Wallace, who played for the Aeros in parts of the 2004, 2006 and 2007 seasons. “And we’d go hide behind the wall and eat it.”

Wallace, 34, is back working at Canal Park, one mile away from the popular pizza place. But he has a new title — manager. Last year’s skipper, Edwin Rodriguez, is now a special assistant in the organization.

Wallace managed the Cleveland Indians’ Class-A club in Carolina last year, so he is familiar with many of his players. He’s expecting good things from right-hander Joe Colon, 24, who joins the Ducks after compiling a 5-3 record with the Mudcats in 2013.

“He’s a guy this organization is very excited about,” said Wallace. “He’s got a great four-pitch mix. He’s a competitor, and if he stays healthy, he’s going to have a really solid year for us.”

Wallace said Colon “has fallen a little under the radar” because of the attention received by right-hander Cody Anderson. Anderson was promoted to the Aeros in August 2013 after notching a 9-4 record for the Mudcats.

The 23-year-old Anderson was the recipient of the 2013 Bob Feller Award for being named the organization’s top minor-league pitcher. Anderson gives high marks to Wallace’s managerial style.

“He knows the game, and he’s helped me a lot,” he said. “He always instills confidence and knows how to lead a team.”

Outfielder Bryson Myles is another new Akron player who knows Wallace well.

“I’ve had him since the first day I was drafted, said Myles, who came up with Mahoning Valley in 2011. “He’s been a big part of my development. He’s a great guy to be around. He’s funny but also understands there’s a time to be serious.”

Myles, who batted .285 last year for Carolina, will be part of a lineup that includes shortstop Francisco Lindor and outfielder Tyler Naquin.

“I know it’s a big park, but we’ve got some guys who can drive it over the wall and into the gaps,” said Wallace. “They can create some havoc for the other team.”

The RubberDucks begin its season on the road, with a series in Binghamton and Altoona. The team’s home opener, at which time the TeriyAKRON Bowl and other unusual food items will be unveiled, is April 10 against the Bowie Baysox. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.

The Cleveland Indians also began its 2014 season away, with games in Oakland. Their first appearance before home fans is set for tomorrow, April 4, against the Minnesota Twins, with the game starting at 3:05 p.m.

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