Swinging for spring at indoor batting cages

It’s cold. There’s even snow in the weather forecast. But it’s always spring in the Batter Box.

The indoor baseball facility opened in a Port Coquitlam industrial warehouse last March to fill a gap when another such batter training centre, the Bullpen in New Westminster, closed.

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Business partners and baseball buddies Tony Tsigonias and Darryl Dyson said their idea grew from their own passion for the game that developed when they played Little League as kids and then softball as adults.

When the New Westminster centre on Braid Street closed after it was sold for redevelopment into a private school, Tsigonias and Dyson discovered they had to travel to North Vancouver or Abbotsford if they wanted to stay north of the Fraser River to keep their swings sharp through the soggy off-season.

They began their search for an appropriate space last January and by February they were painting and configuring a unit on Broadway Street into an 80-ft. long power alley that’s 21-ft. high and can accommodate two batting cages.

Tsigonias, who also coaches batters, said it’s important for ball players to stay in touch with their swing through the winter.

“It’s all muscle memory,” he said.

When batters step into one of the 15-ft. wide cages, they can choose to hit balls off a stationary tee or receive pitches from a machine. The former is more consistent while the latter offers a more realistic simulation of playing a game. The key is constant repetition, Tsigonias said.

“The swing is pretty fundamental,” he said. “It’s the technical aspect of weight transfer to get your hips to fire your body.”

Master that, and the benefits can be immediately realized, Tsigonias said.

“It’s just a really great feeling when you hit the ball well,” he said. “It’s satisfaction.”

That holds true whether you’re whacking a baseball, softball, plastic whiffle ball, or even a cricket ball, Tsigonias said, adding all of them can be accommodated at the cages.

And with warmer days with sunshine and green grass on the distant horizon, baseball, softball and fastball teams of all ages and both genders are starting to get ready for the season ahead.

“You get a few lessons, and you can tell right away your swing is getting better,” Tsigonias said.

• The Batter Box is located at 122-1551 Broadway St. For more information go to www.thebatterbox.ca

mbartel@shaw.ca

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