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Victoria HarbourCats land in new West Division after West Coast League realignment

Regional is a relative term. The West Coast League of baseball features an ambitious footprint that includes the Island, Okanagan, Washington state to near the Idaho border and Oregon to near the California border.

Regional is a relative term.

The West Coast League of baseball features an ambitious footprint that includes the Island, Okanagan, Washington state to near the Idaho border and Oregon to near the California border.

To cut down on travel, the league will realign its divisions. The Victoria HarbourCats, entering their second season, will be in the new West Division with the Bellingham Bells, Kitsap BlueJackets of Bremerton, Wash., and Cowlitz Black Bears of Kelso/Longview, Wash.

The Kelowna Falcons are in the East Division with the Walla Walla Sweets, Wenatchee AppleSox and expansion Yakima. The South Division consists of the all-Oregon quartet of the Bend Elks, Corvallis Knights, Klamath Falls Gems and Medford Rogues.

Each division champion will advance to the playoff semifinals along with a wildcard team with the next best record.

“This builds more natural rivalries, especially for us against Bellingham,” said HarbourCats owner John McLean. “It also means less time on the road and reduces the wear and tear on the players.”

The schedule will remain at 54 games, 27 at home and 27 away. Teams will still play teams out of their division but will visit the other two divisions only in alternating years. The HarbourCats will visit South Division teams in 2014 and East Division teams in 2015.

“Some of the road trips in this league are long. This gives us a little more control over expenses,” said McLean.

The 2014 schedule, which begins in early June and concludes Aug. 11, will be unveiled soon.

The WCL is a summer league for highly rated U.S. collegiate NCAA players. A total of 57 players who played in the WCL were selected in the 2013 MLB draft.

While several WCL teams have already announced player signings for 2014, the HarbourCats have yet to do so. The club has also not confirmed if field-manager Dennis Rogers will return or who will replace off-field general manager Holly Jones, 2013 WCL executive of year, who left earlier this month for what the team described as family reasons.

“We have 30 players committed,” said McLean, saying they will be announced over the next two months.

“As far as the new general manager, we have a handful of highly qualified candidates and are nearing the end of the process.”

McLean said announcements about the field manager and general manager positions will roll out in November and December.

The HarbourCats missed the playoffs at 22-32 in 2013 but finished second in league attendance with a 1,437 per-game average in the franchise’s inaugural season at Royal Athletic Park.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com