Thomp­son gets open­ing day start for Blue Crabs

Blue Crabs pitcher pre­pares for open­ing day start

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

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.

PHOTO BY BERT HIND­MAN

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.

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