Shane Opitz has left the Canberra Cavalry. Photo: Melissa AdamsIt has taken a season-ending shoulder to finally split up dynamic duo Shane Opitz and Jon Berti.
And while Opitz’s return home for treatment is a blow to the Canberra Cavalry ahead of its four-game series against the Adelaide Bite at Narrabundah Ballpark, starting on Thursday, the reigning Australian Baseball League champion will be bolstered by the return of catcher Jack Murphy from a Christmas break.
The Cavalry bullpen has expanded further with Baltimore Orioles prospect Matt Wilson joining it, following Gold Coast product Aaron Thompson’s addition to the starting rotation last weekend.
Opitz and Berti are both prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system and have been playing in the same team since 2011.
They’ve become good mates during that time and even field next to each other at shortstop and second base.
But Opitz has been struggling with what’s believed to be a rotator cuff problem since the Heat series in Perth nearly three weeks ago.
Cavalry coach Michael Collins has been using him as the designated hitter, hoping the shoulder would improve.
Collins said the batting order would just shift up, with Murphy slotting in to the four-hole behind Casey Frawley and Jeremy Barnes, with Berti leading off.
”[Opitz’s] arm got to a point where it just wasn’t feeling right, so Toronto decided to bring him back home,” Collins said.
”He left yesterday, which is a bit of a blow, but he’s got to do what he’s got to do for his career.
”They want to check it out and hopefully it’s nothing serious.”
Collins said Murphy’s return would be a huge boost, especially his leadership.
Murphy missed the trip to Adelaide as he returned home for Christmas.
He gets back to Canberra on Thursday morning, but he’s already reassured Collins he can slot straight back in.
”I had a couple of text messages with him yesterday about when he was coming in and I said if you need to get some rest before coming out to the ballpark do that, and he said, ‘No, I’ll be ready’,” Collins said.
”He’s a team leader. He comes to play every day and other people feed off that.”
CANBERRA v ADELAIDE: At Narrabundah Ballpark – Thursday 7pm, Friday 7pm, Saturday 7pm, Sunday 1pm.
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