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Perth Heat manager Andy Kyle prepares to have full squad unite after imports complete quarantine this week

Perth Heat will have their full squad together from Wednesday as their imports begin to emerge from their 14-day mandatory quarantine period.

Heat’s imports for the upcoming Australian Baseball League season include seven players tied to the Tampa Bay Rays including two coaches from the organisation along with reigning ABL Pitching Champion Dylan Unsworth and Californian relief pitchers Beau Sulser and Nathan Gercken.

Returning manager Andy Kyle is yet to lay eyes on any of them in person in 2020 with the season to get underway at Harley-Davidson Ballpark next Friday against Canberra Cavalry. But, that’s about to change.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has made it a challenging year for everyone and the preparations for a baseball season down under with half the team coming from overseas no different.

But as of Monday, the first of the Heat’s imports for the 2020-21 season will step out of their two-week hotel quarantine and get onto the ballpark.

By Wednesday, Kyle expects the full group together for the first time and he can’t wait to ramp things up from there.

“It’s an exciting time but an unusual time right now given the circumstances,” Kyle said.

“It has crept up somewhat to now suddenly realise we’re under two weeks out from the opening game, and there is a little bit of angst as far as getting the group together very quickly and hoping we get them all as prepared as possible to play.

“Obviously it has been a very unusual time with things we’ve never had to deal with so we’re not sure totally of the best preparation so we’ll just have to do that off eye and with a lot of communication with the imports as they come out of quarantine.

“Our first group will be out of quarantine in time to get on the field on Monday for the first time, and then we’ll have our first full team practice on Tuesday.

“That’ll be a great start for us and we’ll then begin to feel like more of a squad from that point on with a good majority of the group together at one time.”

Andy Kyle.
Camera IconAndy Kyle. Credit: Ryan Schembri / SMP Images / ABL Media

Kyle has spent plenty of time the past two weeks interacting with his international players through a computer screen and the two coaches that the Rays have sent down under, RC Lichtenstein and Sean Smedley.

He has actually enjoyed that chance to get to know his new players, but knows their limited preparation will mean the Heat need to rely on their local players first up against Canberra given their better preparations.

Having said that, having at least five full sessions together means that Kyle is confident they’ll be ready to go come next Friday night.

“We’ll have most of the guys ready by Tuesday or Wednesday so we’ll hope to get two or three sessions in this week, and a couple next week,” he said.

“We are planning on five or six sessions as a full group so they will be important for us to work on our preparation, but the imports will work out daily because they need to get their legs under them and get in some throwing volume.”

The other aspect of the different preparation is that Kyle has to keep reminding himself that the Heat aren’t alone.

The other ABL clubs are in similar situations with their international players and now the great bonus for the Heat is that they get to play at home to open the season.

“You do get a bit focused on your own group and what you are doing,” Kyle said.

“I have to keep reminding myself that it’s pretty similar across the board and as much as we’re trying to deal with what we are, everyone else is having the same sort of issues and a lack of not knowing how it’s all exactly going to fall into place.

“We’ve just been concentrating on what we can control and making sure we are prepared for when everyone is out, and what the best fit will be in our preparation.”

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