Sport

Canberra Cavalry infielder Christian Lopes' hamstring injury better than expected

Canberra Cavalry manager Michael Collins says star infielder Christian Lopes has pulled up "far better than anticipated" from the potentially season-ending hamstring injury he suffered on Friday night but whether he'll play again won't be known until Monday or Tuesday.

But he won't play in the final two games of the Brisbane Bandits series, which have moved into a double header on Sunday from 12.30pm because of Saturday's rain.

Lopes hurt himself stopping suddenly in the wet conditions in the bottom of the sixth inning in the Cavs' 2-0 win over Brisbane on Friday night and was immediately substituted.

The timing is awful for Canberra, just three weeks before the Australian Baseball League finals, as they battle to make the top three, especially given Lopes' batting has been brilliant over the past fortnight.

He's second in the ABL for batting averages (.371), has driven in 24 runs and has six homers, forming an imposing partnership in the line-up with Jack Murphy (.369).

"He's definitely pulled up far better than maybe anticipated after last night's reaction but it's going to need a couple of days to settle down before we can really make any sort of decision about how it plays out," Collins said.

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"After last night, the initial thought was that it wasn't real good but he's pain free and he's walking around on it OK today so we'll just give it until Monday or Tuesday to calm down and see what the physio thinks."

But Lopes' injury could also bring greater opportunity to shortstop Marcus Lemon.

Lemon, 26, played AAA class – the level below Major League Baseball – in the Detroit Tigers franchise and would have figured far more prominently for the Cavs this season if it wasn't for the ABL's controversial import rules.

Despite spending a lot of time watching from the dugout, Lemon has still been a great contributor, averaging .319 with four homers and 18 runs batted in from his 26 games.

"It's definitely a hit to the team, particularly in a season like this, but as one door potentially shuts hopefully another one opens," Collins said.

"Marcus Lemon will play shortstop for a majority of the time if Lopes is out and that will be his chance to step up and show what he's capable of doing as well."

The rain means they will try to squeeze two games in on Sunday, with the ABL determined to get both played before the play-offs start in three weeks.

Both the Cavs and Bandits have the same win-loss record (18-18), with Canberra edging them for third place thanks to their 4-2 record against the banana benders.

The Cavs find themselves in a familiar position – leading a series 2-0 with two games remaining. They were in the same position last week against Melbourne before dropping the final games.

Collins said that had been frustrating and he'd spoken to the squad at training about how important it was to win every game.

After the Bandits series, the Cavalry host second-placed Perth Heat and then travel to face fifth-placed Sydney Blue Sox.

Cavalry starter Tristan Crawford will throw the first pitch on Sunday at 12.30pm with Gaby Hernandez taking the mound for the Cavs in the second game of the double header. 

CANBERRA CAVALRY v  BRISBANE BANDITS

At Narrabundah Ballpark, games three and four Sunday from 12.30pm.

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