Grening deals out short shrift in short shift
Cavalry pitcher Brian Grening during training at Narrabundah ball park. Photo: Melissa Adams
They're the type of hours we can only dream of working.
Converted starter Brian Grening has made the most of his three hours on the mound each week to become the ace in the Canberra Cavalry pitching rotation.
Having spent his inaugural season coming out of the bullpen, the 27-year-old American has been a revelation in his new role.
Grening is the Cavalry's first-choice starting pitcher, and will get the ball for Friday's series opener in the first of four games against the Melbourne Aces at Narrabundah Ballpark.
A starting pitcher usually lasts six or seven innings and normally makes about 100 pitches before he is removed from the game. They normally then require at least four days' rest before they can pitch again, meaning Grening's duty is over after his solitary appearance, whereas as reliever he would be available for most of the weekend.
Grening was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 38th round of the 2008 draft. His good form has continued from the northern hemisphere summer, when he embraced his increased responsibility playing for the Kansas City T-Bones in the AA-level independent league.
''I started all summer in America, so it's been a smooth transition from America to Australia,'' Grening said.
''I'm just trying to get a win for us. It's definitely a different role, but if you make too much of it, it becomes a big deal. You've still got to make pitches and get guys out.''
The hard-throwing right-hander has given up just three runs in his two starts (1-0) this season with an impressive 2.19 ERA, striking out 10 hitters while giving up only one walk.
He picked up his first win in last weekend's 3-2 win against the Brisbane Bandits on the road after a no-decision in the season-opener with the Sydney Blue Sox.
Cavalry manager Michael Collins lauded Grening's development, saying he has taken on a leadership role with the club's rookies.
''Brian's been huge,'' Collins said.
''He came here last year as a bit of everything. Now he's come back and he's our No.1 starter. He's really leading these new guys and seems comfortable in everything he does.''
The Cavalry (2-3) split last weekend's series with the Bandits despite its hitters struggling to get on base.
''Hopefully our offence can come to life this weekend, but our pitching's been outstanding,'' Collins said. ''Hitting's somewhat contagious. When one guy gets going everyone gets on that roll, and we haven't been able to get on that yet.''
Relief pitcher Steve Kent is expected to make his appearance out of the bullpen this weekend, while fellow Canberra product Hayden Beard will be kept in cotton wool until after Christmas.
New Zealand international John Holdzkom will make his Cavalry debut on Sunday, the imposing 201-centimetre pitcher taking the mound in the fourth and final game of the series.
ABL ROUND FOUR
Canberra Cavalry v Melbourne Aces at Narrabundah Ballpark. Friday's game starts at 7pm, Saturday's double headers at 4pm and 7pm, and Sunday's game at 1pm.