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Canberra Cavalry starter Steven Kent fresh for ABL prelim against Adelaide Bite

Steven Kent almost didn't play in the Australian Baseball League this summer as the Canberra Cavalry starting pitcher struggled to come back from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.

Lucky he did – signing a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves this month and getting picked in the Australian squad for the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in Sydney in February.

Kent credited teammate Jeremy Barnes' throwing program and assistance from Cavs pitching coach Hayden Beard with getting his arm back to the best shape of his career.

The 26-year-old didn't travel to Adelaide with his Cavalry teammates – for game one of the ABL preliminary final against the Bite on Friday – to ensure he was fresh to start game two on Saturday night.

He finished the regular season with six wins and four losses, an earned-run average of 3.04 and was third in the ABL for strikeouts with 79.

"Getting back to where I am I've got to put down to the throwing program I did with Jeremy and Hayden, those guys encouraged me to come out," Kent said.


"I wasn't even sure if I was going to play for Cavalry this year, just because last year my elbow wasn't feeling too great."

Kent signed with the Braves as a 16-year-old and spent six years in their system before he was released.

The Kansas City Royals had a look at him at spring training in 2012, but released him before the season began.

He hadn't attracted any interest from his ABL efforts this summer until he played in the All-Star game in Melbourne.

Then a few teams started to watch him and Braves scout Phil Dale was the first to make an offer.

Now Kent will return to the club where it all began for spring training, but he still needs to impress and earn a spot on a team in the cut-throat world of baseball.

"There's no guarantees that I'm going to go over there and make a team, I have to go over there and fight for my spot," he said.

"I'm pretty excited to get over there and see what I can do."

The Australian roster reports on February 4 ahead of their first game against the Philippines a week later, but Kent is hoping he won't be there.

That's because the players involved in the ABL championship series against the Brisbane Bandits don't have to report until after the Claxton Shield has been won.

"It's never something I feel like I'm guaranteed a spot in the [Australian] team, but I guess that's also a good thing because it makes you work pretty hard for it because I never take it for granted," Kent said.

Cavalry manager Michael Collins said it was great for Kent to finally be healthy again after struggling with injury the last couple of years.

"He's been relatively fresh all year. He's been strong even in games where we might have taken him out, he said he felt good and he could've kept going," Collins said

"Maybe we're just now seeing what he is couple of doing if he can stay healthy."

Kent will be up against Cavalry teammates Scott Cone and Boss Moanaroa in the WBC qualifiers at Blacktown. Both were picked in New Zealand's squad.


Saturday: Canberra Cavalry v Adelaide Bite at Narrabundah Ballpark, 7pm. Sunday (if required) 12pm. Tickets available through the Canberra Cavalry website.