Later today, Shaeffer Hall will throw the first pitch in the 19th season of Trenton Thunder baseball. Of the previous Opening Day starters, none have really gone on to big league stardom. Sure, Justin Duchscherer was a big league All-Star in 2008, but the names Brian Rose, Paxton Crawford, Matt Smith, Chase Wright, Eric Hacker and so on didn’t really go on to do much at the game’s highest level.
For others still, like Christian Garcia, Steven White and Andy Beal, they never got there at all.
Only time will tell what happens to Hall, a 24-year-old lefty who showed both poise and durability last year in his first season with Trenton. Hall didn’t miss a single start — the only member of the 2011 rotation who can boast that — and went 10-8 with a 4.12 ERA in 26 appearances, all but two of them starts.
The Thunder are 9-9 on Opening Day and 8-10 in home openers with wins in their last two attempts, and are looking for the southpaw to set the tone for the season tonight.
“There’s something about this (first) game that’s a little different than the others,” said Hall, who also pitched on Opening Day for Charleston in 2010.
“You have that extra adrenalin rush. You go through the whole off-season and all of spring training, and it gets long. Once it starts hitting that time, you get anxious. I was telling all the other guys I feel like it’s an honor and I’m definitely going to take advantage of it. They could give it to somebody else, so I’m definitely excited.”
Hall also was promoted to Triple-A Scranton for one start last season, and would seem to be the prime candidate to return this year given that he’s getting the ball first.
“I really can’t think about that,” Hall said.
“I’ve got to just worry about one thing, and that’s my performance. Everything else will happen for a reason. (When you think that way) that’s when you start getting in trouble, whenever you start worrying about those things. They’re out of your control, you just never know. Last year, when I got that call, it was unexpected for me. It was just one of those days where I go out, do the same thing, and after the game was over, I get called into the office. I was really excited about it, but you can’t worry about it. You just have to go out there and pitch and let everything take care of itself.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com