Beach Bums Open 2017 Without Veteran Vargas

TRAVERSE CITY – As the Traverse City Beach Bums prepare to open their 2017 season this weekend, they’ll do so without one of their most popular and recognizable faces.

Six-year Traverse City veteran Jose Vargas departed the club after the 2016 campaign, joining the Rieleros de Aguascalientes of the Mexican Baseball League, a 16-team Triple-A level Minor League Baseball circuit.

“With Jose, he’s still got options. He can still play the game,” Beach Bums manager Dan Rohn said. “I tell him that if you can still play the game, don’t take the uniform off. Make them take the uniform off. So hopefully he’s doing well down there.”

Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2008, Vargas spent his first three years in affiliated ball before joining the independent Frontier League and Traverse City Beach Bums in 2011.

Over the course of his six-year career in Traverse City, Vargas totaled 555 hits, 122 doubles, 84 home runs, 360 RBIs, a .283 batting average and scored 307 runs.

A member of the club’s 2015 Frontier League championship team, Vargas became the organization’s first player-coach last year.

“He’s been a poster board guy for, you know, this ball club and Traverse City,” fourth-year outfielder Jeff DeBlieux said. “No one can replace a Jose.”

Through 21 games in the Mexican League, Vargas is batting .291 with 16 hits, four home runs and 11 RBIs.

As the 29-year-old makes the move to Triple-A level ball for the first time in his career, the Beach Bums organization will be following.

“He’s real happy and we’re happy for him,” team president John Wuerfel said. “It’s going to be different, looking out and not seeing him at third base, anchoring it like we’ve had for so many years.

It’s going to be different without Jose for sure, both as a person on and off the field. Jose was just straight class for us.”

The Beach Bums open their season with a three-game road series with the Schaumburg Boomers on Friday.