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Crabs Manager Expecting ‘Strong’ Schedule In 2010

By Ray Hamill

Photo by Matt Filar


With the season-opener just over two months away, Crabs manager Matt Nutter is counting down the days and gearing up for his fifth summer in charge of the club.

And Nutter is expecting a tough schedule in 2010.

"I think it looks like a strong schedule," said Nutter. "No matter who you're playing, they're always out to beat you. It doesn't matter who you play, you've got to go out and play the whole game. But overall, I think it looks like a strong schedule this year."

The Crabs officially kick off the season against traditional opening day rivals, the Fairfield Indians, on Saturday June 5, playing a split doubleheader with games slated for 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The nine-week season, which runs through early August, also includes big games with longtime rivals the Fontanetti Athletics in mid-june, as well as three matchups with local rivals, the Humboldt Steelheads.

The schedule also includes road contests at the Redding Colt 45's and the Medford Riverdawgs, as well as the WCL Tri-State League playoffs in Arcata, which will be held Aug. 5, 6 and 7.

Among the key changes on tap this summer, the Crabs will not play the usual Saturday night seven-inning doubleheaders and will instead play one nine-inning game on those nights.

And that's something Nutter is happy to see.

"That's one of the things I'm excited about," the manager said. "To me, baseball is a nine-inning game, and our whole strength is playing nine-inning games. Playing a seven-inning game is like playing three quarters of a basketball game, so this is something I pushed for this offseason."

Another change Nutter will have to adjust to this summer is within the coaching ranks, with assistant coach Matt Wilson unable to return because of other committments. In his place, Mike Jordt, who joined the staff as an assistant last summer, will now step into a bigger role, including taking over the summer camps program.

"It was great having Matt here, but I understand him moving on and trying different things. Part of the Crabs tradition is turning things over every few years," said Nutter. "But I'm excited to have Mike back. He helps (head coach) Robin (Guiver) and myself as far as strategy and running things."

"Another part of it all is trying to balance guys on the quarter system who don't get done with college until mid-June"Guiver added. "That makes a difference for sure, and we have eight or nine guys this year who we know we won't have for the first few weeks of the season."

With just five or six players slated to return this summer, Nutter and Guiver will also have to adapt to an almost entire new roster, although that's something the manager says he enjoys most about his role.

"I enjoy the guys a lot," he said. "I think that's the funnest thing about my job, making relationships with the guys and the fans too."

Outfield Speed, Pitching Highlight 2010 Roster

By Ray Hamill

Photos by Matt Filar

Crabs fans can expect to see plenty of speed in the outfield and some valuable experience on the mound this summer as the 2010 roster begins to take shape.

Don Terbush

The team will have just five or six returning players this year, but most of them will feature on the mound, giving manager Matt Nutter and head coach Robin Guiver a good foundation to build on for the summer season.

Don Terbush

"The thing that strikes me right now is we have a pretty solid corps of pitchers," said Nutter. "We don't have some of the big bats coming back, but I look at the pitching staff and I like what I see."

Included among the returning players are last season's co-pitchers of the year, Scott Heinig (left) and John Austin (right), as well as Thomas Whitsett (below-left), who was a weekend starter for the club in 2009. Austin went 7-1 in nine appearances last season, while Heinig finished 5-2 with an ERA of 0.94 in 12 appearances. Whitsett added four wins in 11 appearances.

Also included among the returning players in 2010 are Humboldt County natives Brad Morgan (New Mexico Highlands, below-right) who returns behind the plate this year, and pitcher Zach O'Hanen (bottom-left) out of Oregon Tech.

Don Terbush

Guiver, who is in charge of filling the roster each year, is also hoping pitcher Chris DeBoo will return this summer after an outstanding debut campaign with the club in 2009. "We're hoping to get him," Guiver said of DeBoo, who went 9-0 in 16 appearances last summer, posting a lowly ERA of 0.60. "We've been in contact with him and we always have room for another pitcher."

The problem for Guiver when it comes to filling the roster each year, however, is that he can never be certain who might back out at the last moment for a variety of reasons ranging from injuries to college coaches wanting their players to go elsewhere.

Don Terbush

"I would say there are probably 27, 28 or 29 players on the roster, total, depending on how things work out," the head coach said. "And there are probably double that in terms of commitments we get because there are a lot of variables and we never know for sure who's coming until the summer. Until they get to Arcata, I never know for sure. That's the nature of summer baseball."

Guiver and Nutter also have to account for some players who may end up playing deep into the College World Series and would be unable to join the team until well into the two-month summer season.

Don Terbush

And that's just one of the challenges facing the coaching staff during the early going each summer.

"Another part of it all is trying to balance guys on the quarter system who don't get done with college until mid-June"Guiver added. "That makes a difference for sure, and we have eight or nine guys this year who we know we won't have for the first few weeks of the season."

Overall, however, Guiver likes the way the roster is shaping up, especially in the outfield.

"We should be solid everywhere," he said. "We've got a good returning pitching staff and we have some power hitting players. And we'll have some pretty good speed in the outfield. We should have some serious speed there."

At the plate, three-time team MVP Jeff Giacomini is no longer on the roster, but Guiver is hoping the transition will be eased with the presence of power hitter David Popkins out of UC Davis, who is hitting .430 at clean-up for the Aggies this spring.

"He's a big kid that throws hard," Guiver said of Popkins

Also expected to make some noise for the Crabs this summer is outfielder Blake Gibbs out of Oregon State, as well as Craig Smith out of the University of Portland and Breland Almadova out of the University of Hawaii.

"We should have some good balance," said Guiver, in his 13th season with the Crabs.

For Guiver, the process of building the roster begins before the previous season even ends, when he looks for verbal commitments from players the team wants back, and gets under way in earnest as early as August.

But the process has gotten easier over the years.

"I think it has gotten easier in terms of the more I know the college coaches the more I know I can trust them and the more they know they can trust us," he said. "I don't have to sell the Crabs to these guys as much. They want to send their players here."

It's Crab Season - In More Ways Than One

Crab SeasonARCATA (Dec. 6, 2009) — December marks the beginning of Crab season — in more ways than one. And you can celebrate even if you don’t like seafood.

That’s because tickets for the Humboldt Crabs 2010 baseball season are now on sale. Season passes and 10-strips of single-game tickets are now on sale. And through the end of December, the season passes are only $76.50, a 10 percent discount from the normal price of $85.

The tickets can be purchased at Ray’s Food Place locations in Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville and Fortuna, the Eureka and Arcata Chambers of Commerce, Solo Sports in Arcata and the Times-Standard. They will also be available soon at Blue Lake Casino.

You can also purchase tickets from the Crabs directly, by downloading this form. For more Crabs ticket information, click here.

The 66th season of Crabs baseball begins on Saturday, June 5 against the Fairfield Indians. The annual season-opening dinner is scheduled for Friday, June 4 at the Arcata Community Center. Check out the complete 2010 schedule!

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