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."