- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Their formal comments were brief, yet hardly inconsequential, Tuesday to open the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs annual media luncheon inside the Legends Club at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.
With all but a few of the team on hand, joined by an array of media and host family members, Blue Crabs President Keith Lupton first took to the podium to welcome everyone.
He then added, before turning the podium over to second-year manager Patrick Osborn, “I don’t know about you guys, but I feel this is our year.”
Osborn continued the pleasantries to all in attendance at the media luncheon by stating, “To the media, [thanks for] all the great coverage that you guys provide us throughout the year. To the host families that are here, I never got to thank you guys so close and personal for allowing our players to come into your homes. It means a lot to myself, it means a lot to them. It’s a huge advantage we have here, providing players with free housing. It doesn’t go unnoticed.
“So you guys, a very big thank-you.”
He concluded his minute’s worth of comments at the podium with “We’re going to be very good. It’s going to be an exciting time. This team is special, and I think you guys will see that as the season progresses.”
Osborn did not finish until he told everyone to enjoy the lunch that was provided by the stadium. After receiving an applause, the young 31-year-old skipper simply said, “Let’s grub,” before walking away from the podium.
That course of action could also describe the Blue Crabs attack plan this season in the Atlantic League.
With spring training kicking off Monday with the team’s first full workout, there is a plethora of excitement and confidence surrounding the team unlike any other year at this point given the cast of talent, depth and balance throughout the roster.
The Blue Crabs are certainly primed to make their fifth year of existence one of memorable status for more than the commemorative reasons, as they seek the franchise’s first league championship.
Osborn has constructed a starting pitching staff comprised of five right-handed arms each capable of being the ace. The bullpen is equally as strong.
Defensively, there is not a weakness among the position players.
And offensively, where the team has been most inconsistent during its four past seasons, the Blue Crabs feature a well-blended mixture of sticks from both sides of the plate and the capability to hit for a high average as much as jacking the ball out of the park.
“The basis behind [my optimism] is our pitching staff,” Osborn said. “Top to bottom, I would be surprised if there’s another team in this league that has 13 pitchers of the quality we have here, especially the one through five starters.
“Offensively, we’re a hitter away from being really, really good. And I think I’ve found one.”
Osborn is in the process of adding that one more middle-of-the-lineup bat by early May. He elected not to disclose the player’s name until the contract is finalized.
“With this entire team, to be honest with you, I think our biggest challenge is going to be how many guys are we going to lose to affiliated baseball,” Blue Crabs starting pitcher Michael Schlact said. “It’s great for [those guys that sign with affiliated ball], not so great [for the team]. We’re all confident in Patrick’s abilities to bring in guys. You’ve seen what he’s done the past couple years.
“He brings in nothing but quality ballplayers and even better guys. When times get tough, you have to have good teammates.”
The Blue Crabs took part in a Tuesday afternoon workout following the media luncheon.
They opened their spring training exhibition schedule Thursday at two-time reigning league champion York. The game finished too late for inclusion into this edition.
Today, the Blue Crabs are scheduled to be back at home in an exhibition rematch with York at 1 p.m. Admission is free.
Sunday, the Blue Crabs get their first look at the newest team in the league when they play the Sugar Land Skeeters at York’s stadium. The Texas-based Skeeters, located in a Houston suburb, replace the Blue Crabs as the league’s newest franchise.
The Blue Crabs return home Monday for a 5 p.m. exhibition game against College of Southern Maryland in an intriguing matchup of local flavor and then conclude the exhibition tune-ups Tuesday of next week at Lancaster, the season-opening night opponent in Southern Maryland 48 hours later.