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Heat no sweat for Cavalry, with Perth star in the sights

Not satisfied with a clean-sweep win over the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League championships series, now the Canberra Cavalry wants the team's star player as well.

Former major leaguer and Heat second baseman Luke Hughes might have been public enemy No.1 a week ago, but the Cavalry has identified him as one of its main recruiting targets in the off-season.

With Australian Baseball League championship celebrations still fresh in the minds of the fans, the Cavs have already started planning for their title defence and they've set their sights on a high-quality Australian recruit.

Winning the Claxton Shield means the Cavalry will represent Australia at the Asia Baseball Series, which is played between the champions of Australia, China, Japan and Korea.

Canberra general manager Peter Bishell said the exposure on that stage would make the Cavs an exciting proposition for out-of-contract players.

Hughes is out of contract and if he doesn't find a Major League club during the US summer, the Cavs could become a tempting team to join.


The former Minnesota Twin already has a link to the capital through his girlfriend Anna Flanagan, a Canberra-born Hockeyroo.

Hughes isn't the only person Cavalry management might have to sell the idea to - they might have to convince their fans as well.

The 28-year-old didn't take the championship loss well and won no fans with some of his comments on social network Twitter.

''Haha another clown. I hope your 22 followers listen to you,'' he tweeted to one Canberra fan.

''I heard Alex [Pellerano], the GM of Perth saying Luke's one of the most competitive guys he's ever come across and maybe that's an aspect of Luke we were seeing in some of the things he said,'' Bishell told Fairfax Media.

Hughes wasn't the only one on Bishell's radar.

Canberra manager Michael Collins left a shopping list before leaving to take up his job as San Diego Padres Arizona League manager.

Sydney Blue Sox outfielder Mitch Dening spent five seasons signed with the Boston Red Sox, but was released in 2011.

Bishell said the heavy reliance on 40-year-old Michael Wells this season meant they needed to raise their Australian player numbers.

Wells played 43 of a possible 48 games and is considering retirement.

At present the Cavalry is allowed 16 imports on its 22-man roster - twice as many as every other team due to Canberra's small population. That will decrease annually until the Cavs are on a par with the other teams.

The concession led to Perth labelling the Cavalry ''Team USA''. Bishell said that gibe played no part in deciding to recruit an Australian.

''Michael Wells played well over 50 per cent of our games as either a [designated hitter] or third base and, without wanting to pre-empt Wells' decision, if he's 40 years old, we've got to be getting ready for the day he's not there,'' he said.

''That's all it is.''

Bishell didn't have any concerns about the development of local talent, with Canberra product Aaron Sloan enjoying a breakout season.