When the Prince William Cannons take those seemingly endless bus rides to Lynchburg and Salem and Kinston this summer, first-year manager Mark Weidemaier probably will be smiling all the way. Weidemaier is used to long trips. When he coached in the Mexican League last year, his team made a 52-hour journey from Torreon to Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula. "We drove for 2 1/2 days and then we had to play that night," Weidemaier said. "That was an adventure. I'm looking forward to the trips this year, absolutely." The Cannons, a Class A minor league franchise of the New York Yankees, open the Carolina League season today at Winston-Salem, only six hours away. They were scheduled to open last night, but were rained out. The Frederick Keys, the Baltimore Orioles entry that moved 25 miles down Interstate 70 from Hagerstown, also start the season today after being rained out last night in Durham. Both teams have great expectations for the 1989 season. It's really not news that Prince William has changed its nickname again. The Cannons started in 1979 as the Alexandria Mariners, soon switched to the Dukes, followed by the Pirates when they moved to Prince William Stadium. The last two years, in the New York organization, they were the Yankees, but copyright problems forced another identity crisis. "The Yankees didn't care but Major League Baseball wanted to charge us a fee {about $35,000}, so we rebelled against it," Cannons General Manager Jeff Mercer said. "Now we have our own identity." Prince William held a contest last October to pick a new name. Entries included the Rebels, Millers, Senators, Commuters and Gridlocks. With a new name and a group of talented newcomers from the Yankees teams in Sarasota, Fla., and Oneonta, N.Y., Prince William will try to rebound from its worst season ever (55-84). Ironically, the team set an attendance record a year ago, drawing more than 114,000 fans. "We're a much better team," Mercer said. "The defense and pitching is so much better. Last year we had to score eight or nine runs just to win one game. But this spring we've had 2-1 and 3-2 games." Weidameier's starting pitchers are right-handers Andy Cook (from Memphis), Mike Draper (Boonsboro, Md., and George Mason University), Jeff Johnson (Durham, N.C.), Wade Taylor (Longwood, Fla.) and left-hander Mark Marris (Binghamton, N.Y.). Cook and Taylor have excellent fastballs, Draper needs his change-up to be successful, and Johnson and Marris have good command of their pitches, Weidemaier said. The Cannons strength is the middle infield where shortstop Bob DeJardin (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and second baseman Pat Kelly (Bethlehem, Pa.) are considered excellent major league prospects. Both were all-stars at Oneonta last year. Tom Weeks (Riverside, Calif.) will start at first base, Dave Turgeon (Groton, Conn.) at third and Rod Ehrhard (Valrico, Fla.) behind the plate. The best outfield prospect is Bill Masse from Wethersfield, Conn., who played right field for the U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal in Seoul last September. Gerald Williams (La Place, La.) will be in left field and Vince Phillips (Pasadena, Calif.) in center. The Keys have three familiar names in uniform. The manager is Jerry Narron, who became the New York Yankees catcher in 1979 when Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash. Narron later played for Seattle and California and was at Baltimore's Class AAA team in Rochester last summer. While Narron already has played in the big leagues, Pete Rose Jr. is trying to follow in the footsteps of his father. Rose will start at third base, but General Manager Keith Lupton thinks he may have trouble. "Pete's probably going to struggle," Lupton said. "You have to be pretty good to go from high school to the Carolina League. It's a difficult transition. As far as his sense of the game, he can handle it, but the pitching is a lot tougher." Rose played for Oak Hill (Ohio) High School and Cincinnati's American Legion Budde Post 507 last year. The Keys' first baseman is Dave Segui, son of former major league pitcher Diego Segui, who played for seven teams in 15 seasons. The younger Segui is a switch-hitter first baseman and is considered an outstanding prospect. With Rose and Segui at the corners, Rob Lofton (East St. Louis, Ill.) will be the second baseman and 18-year-old Ricky Gutierrez (Miami) will be the shortstop. The catching duties will be handled by Louie Paulino (Bani, Dominican Republic) and Dan Simonds (Hyannis, Mass.). Frederick's four outfielders are Tom Harms (Vancouver, Wash.), Roy Gilbert (Minden, La.), Hector Bautista (San Pedro Marcoris, Dominican Republic) and Jack Voight (Osprey, Fla.). The pitching staff is anchored by Chris Myers, the Orioles' No. 1 pick in the 1987 amateur draft, Mike Linskey, formerly of James Madison University, and Stacy Jones, a 6-foot-6 right-hander from Alabama.