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Canberra Cavalry out to reclaim Claxton Shield in Australian Baseball League

The old crew's getting back together and Canberra Cavalry manager Michael Collins has vowed they're out to reclaim the Claxton Shield and add it  to the Asian championship already in their trophy cabinet.

Canberra faces arch-rivals Sydney Blue Sox in their first game of the new season at Narrabundah Ballpark on Thursday night and pitcher Brian Grening will start for the Cavalry.

He will team with catcher Jack Murphy, with the Toronto Blue Jays prospect back for his third ABL season.

The Cavalry will start the season light on for troops, with three players off to Taiwan with the Australian under-21 side, plus knee surgery ruling Todd McDonald our for the season.

As a result, the Cavs have been granted an exemption to the import rule, which states five Australians must be in the 10 onfield players, for the first two rounds while Robbie Perkins, Aaron Thompson and Adam Silva are playing in the World Cup and the Cavalry's local talent is severely depleted.

Grening will again lead off the starting rotation, with Tim Atherton, Tristan Crawford and Gaby Hernandez to get the other three starts this series.

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Collins was expecting the reigning Asian champions to be competitive.

"It's nice that guys like Murphy and Grening are back, they know how it goes, they can lead the way a bit for some of the other guys while they find their way," he said.

"It's the same goal we've always had - we're here to win, here to win it all.

"I like the team we've put together, I think we've got a bit of versatility - guys can play multiple positions, which I think will be big with the restrictions."

Collins was expecting Murphy, shortstop Marcus Lemon and first-base LB Dantzler to play an important role in driving runs home in the middle of the order.

The Cavalry manager played against Lemon in 2009-10 at AA-class and he's expecting Lemon, who played AAA level for the Detroit Tigers this year, to be one of the team leaders.

Like Murphy, Dantzler is a Blue Jays prospect, as is dual-athlete Anthony Alford. 

Alford is gifted at both baseball and American football, but has decided to devote his full attention to baseball.

Collins expected him to generate a bit of interest in the local football community.

"He's a phenomenal athlete, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the rugby boys try to steal him," Collins said.

"He's committed to baseball now and I'm sure the Blue Jays will be really excited for that - a special athlete."

CANBERRA CAVALRY v SYDNEY BLUE SOX

At Narrabundah Ballpark, Thursday 7pm, Friday 7pm, Saturday 7pm and Sunday 6pm.

Cavalry roster - pitchers: Brian Grening, Tim Atherton, Jake Brown, Tristan Crawford, Steve Kent, Aaron Thompson, Dustin Crenshaw, AJ Holland, Ian Marshall, Gabriel Hernandez, Wayne Ough, Sam Thornton; catchers: Jack Murphy, Robbie Perkins, Kieran Bradford; infielders: LB Dantzler, Christian Lopes, Marcus Lemon, Mitch Walding, Aaron Sloan, Jason Sloan; outfielders: Anthony Alford, Scott Hillier, Adam Silva, Alex Hudak. 

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