Southern Maryland is still vying for the first league title in franchise history, which began its ninth season with opening night on Thursday evening, a contest that finished too late for inclusion into this edition, and finishing the roster is the starting point to achieving that milestone.
“We have a lot of pitching and skilled players at different positions,” Blue Crabs first-year manager Jeremy Owens said. “We have some guys that are coming in and can fill some roles.”
Fourteen of the Blue Crabs are pitchers with nine of them returning to a pitching staff that was the second-best in the Atlantic League playoffs in 2015.
After a brief minor league stint with the Baltimore Orioles organization, Sexton, a 6-foot-6 righthander, returns to the Blue Crabs for another season.
Sexton, who was assigned to the Bowie Baysox in late January, was released on March 28 and will be a force on the Southern Maryland pitching core yet again.
The native of Baltimore, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007, played a big role in the 2015 Blue Crabs playoff run, dealing a shutout in 7 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and striking out eight Lancaster batters in a 6-0 victory in Game 4 that clinched the Freedom Division title for Southern Maryland and secured them a spot in the league championship series.
“He had a strong performance in the playoffs last year and we are glad to have him back this season,” Owens said. “When he is on and healthy Tim is one of the best pitchers in the Atlantic League.”
Martinez, a native of Los Angeles, Calif., has played five seasons in the independent ball circuit, most recently with the San Rafeal Pacifics in the Pacific Association. He is one of two catchers on the Blue Crabs roster.
Dziomba, from Buffalo, N.Y., who last played with the Sussex County Miners, brings a strong bat and will also be vital defensively in the outfield.
Lombardozzi, a 2007 graduate of Atholton High School in Howard County, had stints with the Nationals, Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Lombardozzi saw his best year in 2012 while playing for the Nationals on their first division winning team.
During that season, Lombardozzi recorded a .273 batting average in 126 games played with three home runs, 27 RBIs and 16 doubles.
During his five seasons in the big leagues, Lombardozzi posted a .263 batting average in 257 games. While in the minors, he recorded a .293 batting average with a .387 slugging percentage.
Most recently, Lombardozzi played with the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pirates, where he posted a .282 BA in 97 games played.
“Steve is a potent hitter and solid defender who is a huge addition for this team” said Owens in a recent Blue Crabs news release. “We are thrilled to have his experience and leadership in the clubhouse.”
The opening series with Lancaster continues at 7:05 tonight and on Saturday with a 6:05 p.m. doubleheader that will feature two seven-inning games.