Thompson gets opening day start for Blue Crabs
Blue Crabs pitcher prepares for opening day start
Everything Daryl Thompson does on the baseball field is a purpose. His routine on game days, from his pregame meal to his route to the stadium, is usually exact. He listens to his music to set his mood and focus and goes through his pitching sequences before and after a start.
Come Thursday night, the 2003 La Plata High School graduate is eager to put everything to a test as he is slated to be the starter as the Blue Crabs open up the 2016 season with the first of a four-game, three-day series with 2014 Atlantic League champion Lancaster. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
Being a starter on opening day isn’t a first experience for Thompson during his professional career.
“First I like to wake up and go to the barber shop a little bit before noon or after and be at the stadium like six hours and get on the field to jog,” he said. “I try to get the adrenaline going and think about my pitching sequences. I listen to my music and get into the zone. I just like to keep the ball down and throw strikes. I’m pretty excited to be the opening day starter and I want to give the team a lift and set the tone early.”
Thompson, who enters his fifth season with Southern Maryland, had one of his most masterful performances in his pro career last season in Game 1 of the Freedom Division championship series, striking out 11 batters, did not walk a batter and threw 140 pitches, 94 of which were for strikes, en route to the Blue Crabs’ 2-0 shutout of Lancaster. The Blue Crabs went on win the series in four games over the Barnstormers to move on to the Atlantic League championship series
where they fell in four games to Somerset.
“I’ve been a opening day starter in my career before,” said Thompson, who played in Venezuela for a couple months in the offseason. “This is a new year and Lancaster is always a good team. I just have to come out in the first inning and get the ball rolling on the mound.”
During his youth, Thompson starred for Hughesville Little League en route to blossoming as a high school pitcher in the state with the Warriors. The talented
overpowering right-hander was then taken in the eighth round of the 2003 Major League Baseball draft straight out of high school, selected by the Montreal Expos, which left for Washington before the start of the 2005 season.
In 2006, Thompson was sent to the Cincinnati Reds, breaking into the majors with the Reds in 2008, where he had a prolific debut, pitching five shutout innings while scattering four hits with four walks and two strikeouts in a no-decision as the Reds walked away with the 6-0 win at the old Yankee Stadium.
Thompson made major league appearances in 2008 and 2011 before
several shoulder surgeries derailed his progress. He signed with the Blue Crabs in 2012 and was an Atlantic League all-star in 2013 before getting assigned to the New York Mets’ Triple-A Las Vegas affiliate for a brief stint.
“It’s always fun to pitch in front of home fans,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of baseball here in Southern Maryland growing up and even when I’ve traveled around the world as a pro I still come back home and everyone has supported me so much. And it has been a blessing to play the game that I love.”
On his decision to make Thompson as the opening day starter, firstyear Blue Crabs manager Jeremy
Owens said, Daryl doesn’t let anything bother him when he is pitching. The way he threw last year for us in the playoffs was exciting to watch and he just gave the guys a certain feel and they really backed him up. That is why I thought he was the prime candidate to be the opening day starter.”
Owens replaces Stan Cliburn as manager with Cliburn now managing the New Britain Bees, a new team in the Atlantic League this year.
“Lancaster is going to be very strong again,” Owens said. “[Lancaster manager] Butch [Hobson] always has his team ready to play. For the first month of the season
we just have to let the game come to us. We have to improve every game and we can’t be ourselves.”
With a roster full of new faces, returning players and former major league products, the Blue Crabs had a busy spring training, falling 6-5 to the York Revolution on Friday followed by an 11-0 loss to Lancaster on Saturday. On Sunday at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, the Blue Crabs tied the Barnstormers, 4-4. Southern Maryland also hosted York on Tuesday at home for the last game of spring training, a game that finished too late for inclusion into this edition.
Daryl Thompson, a 2003 La Plata High graduate, pictured here in Saturday’s spring training game at Lancaster, was named the opening day starter Thursday versus Lancaster at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.