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Posted at 05:30 PM ET, 04/28/2011

From The Farm: Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs open season, Loudoun Hounds can’t wait for 2012

With the independent Atlantic League starting its season Friday night, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs fans look forward to seeing one of their favorite players make his managerial debut. Patrick Osborn, a 29-year-old who starred for the Blue Crabs from 2008 to 2010, will be managing more than a dozen former teammates.

The Blue Crabs’ fourth campaign begins when the Somerset Patriots visit Waldorf for the first of a three-game series. Osborn, the franchise’s all-time leader in hits (423), doubles (84) and RBI (223), will be guiding a roster that includes 12 of his teammates from last year. Also, one of his first two signings during the offseason was right-hander Jim Ed Warden, a former teammate in the Cleveland Indians system.

Blue Crabs General Manager Keith Lupton said the team’s booster club will hand out Patrick Osborn T-shirts to the earliest arriving fans Friday night. Though Osborn, a second-round pick in 2002 out of the University of Florida, topped out in Class AA in affiliated ball, he has found a following and a new career in the Atlantic League.

“It’s a big deal here in Southern Maryland,” Lupton said in a phone conversation Wednesday. “He was well-liked as a player.”

Meanwhile, the area’s other Atlantic League franchise, the Loudoun Hounds, still has to wait a year before making its debut. The countdown to first pitch is already on the Hounds’ Web site, and the team drew more than 9,500 fans to its first FanFest in February.

Loudoun’s 5,500 seat “Dog Yard” is expected to open this time next year and include 22 luxury suites, an on-site brewery and an NHL-sized public ice-skating rink. It will be across the road from Dulles Town Center, near the intersection of Routes 28 and 7. Adam Gladstone, a longtime Atlantic League team builder, has been hired as director of baseball operations.

This year’s Atlantic League season is scheduled to run through Sept. 18 and last 140 games. Though the league is independent, it has developed major league players and has helped more than 50 former major leaguers make it back to the bigs. It is the responsibility of the clubs to find their own players, and Osborn has most of that duty for the Blue Crabs along with managing.

Osborn will be just the second manager in franchise history, replacing former major league manager and player Butch Hobson.

“It’s going to be tough to follow in Butch’s footsteps, but with the type of competitor I am, I’m ready to meet that challenge,” the former infielder Osborn said in his introductory news conference. “It’s been a great run as a player, but I’m ready to start this new chapter of my life.”

By Lacy Lusk  |  05:30 PM ET, 04/28/2011

 
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