Minnesota Twins veto Perth Heat’s hurt Luke Hughes for baseball finals
By Brad Elborough From:The Sunday Times
THE Perth Heat goes into battle for consecutive Australian Baseball League championship titles without star hitter Luke Hughes.
Hughes injured his shoulder while sliding into home base during the Heat’s semi-final series win against the Melbourne Aces last weekend.
Despite receiving the all-clear from physios, he has been shut down by his Major League Baseball club, the Minnesota Twins.
Hughes, 27, hit the international spotlight in 2010 when he hit a home run for the Twins with his first Major League at-bat, against the Detroit Tigers.
This season for the Heat, he has hit at .344 from 19 games (64 at bats) including four home runs and 13 runs batted in.
Hughes told The Sunday Times he was disappointed not to be playing, but thought the Heat had proved it had the fire-power to win the championship.
“Being so close to Spring training (later this month), and knowing how many injuries we had last year, they want me 100 per cent right,” Hughes said.
“I’m hugely disappointed. I enjoy coming back and playing for the Heat. To have the opportunity to play in another championship final, but not being able to play, is tough.
“I have to think about my career in the States first and hopefully I’ll get another opportunity to play with the Heat in another grand final.”
If another MRI taken on Friday shows structural damage to his shoulder, Hughes will fly back to the US before the championship series starts on Thursday.
Hughes nominated Tim Kennelly as the man to lead the Heat to victory this week.
Kennelly, 25, has averaged .374 this season behind only Brian Burgamy of Brisbane (.409) has hit 10 home runs and batted in 39 teammates.
In December he hit two home runs in each game of a double-header against the Adelaide Bite, setting an ABL record with four in one day. Yesterday, the ABL announced him as the Silver Slugger Award winner for the Heat, as the player who made the greatest individual offensive contributions to his team.
“Our team has such a great core,” Hughes said. “We have played extremely well, not just for weeks, but all season. If someone is down, then someone else has stepped up.
“Tim Kennelly has had a fantastic year, taking steps forward in his career and our pitching staff shapes up better than any other.
The Sydney Blue Sox took a 2-1 lead in the best of five elimination series against the Melbourne Aces on Friday night. The fourth game and a fifth, if required, will be played today.