Hayden Beard missed all of last season with the Cavalry due to injury. Photo: Melissa Adams
Dubbed Team USA for their reliance on US imports in the past, the Canberra Cavalry hope a proposed Australian draft will help bolster their local talent for the upcoming Australian Baseball League season.
It is a season Cavalry fans will have to wait a week longer for, as the reigning Asia Series champions begin their 2014-15 campaign with a bye before hosting arch-rivals Sydney Blue Sox from November 6.
The ABL held an inaugural imports draft last year and is consideringa similar concept for Australians leading into the 2014-15 season.
It is proposed each club could reserve a specified number of Australian players, with the remaining players able to nominate for the draft.
The reserved players, barring injury, would have to be included on every roster for the season.
It would mean the Cavalry, with the smallest playing pool in the country, could draw on talent from around the nation.
Last season they were hit by injuries to key Canberra personnel, with pitchers Hayden Beard (shoulder) and Steve Kent (elbow) both missing the entire campaign following surgery.
It was a massive blow to Canberra's local stocks and the ABL granted it temporary permission to play extra imports, before it eventually recruited Steven Chambers and Aaron Thompson from Brisbane, as well as Matt Wilson from Melbourne, midway through the season.
Cavalry chief executive Thom Carter hopes the ABL approves the Australian draft.
"It's something we're hopeful will take place this year so that we're able to get players for a full season," he said. "Steven Chambers and Thompson are two pitchers from Queensland that we would've loved to have for a full year, but we weren't aware of their playing situation."
Carter said early indications were Michael Collins would return for his third season as manager.
The Cavalry are waiting for the ABL to finalise any rule changes to import limits before they start recruiting, but Carter said starting pitcher Brian Grening and closer Sean Toler were the club's main targets.
It is hoped both Beard and Kent will return to the mound as well.
If Grening returns it will be his fourth ABL season, and Carter was hopeful the Cavs would be given credit for long service.
"This would be Grening's fourth year with us – it would be great to see him given some credit for being a part of it," Carter said. "We're still discussing that as an option, but we want to make sure all the Australian players get a fair shot, no matter what."
The ABL is also considering extending the championship series to a best-of-five decider.
CAVALRY SCHEDULE: Sydney Blue Sox at the Fort, November 6-9; Blue Sox at Sydney, November 13-16; Perth Heat at Perth, November 20-23; Adelaide Bite at the Fort, November 27-30; Bite at Adelaide, December 4-7; Melbourne Aces at the Fort, December 11-14; Brisbane Bandits at Brisbane, December 19-21; Bite at the Fort, 27-29; Aces at Melbourne, January 1-4; Bandits at the Fort, January 8-11; Heat at the Fort, January 15-18; Blue Sox at Sydney, January 22-25; preliminary finals, January 30-February 1; championship series, February 6-8.