There'll be nobody more fired up to hit a baseball in anger again next Friday night for the Perth Heat than star hitter Robbie Glendinning as he looks to set the stage for a massive 2021 after he had 2020 taken away from him.
While last year's Australian Baseball League season ended frustratingly for Glendinning and the Heat with a wildcard playoff loss to the Canberra Cavalry, he himself ended the campaign on a high having hit at an average of .335 with seven home runs and 30 runs overall from 52 hits in 155 at bats.
Those are the numbers that had him excited to head back to Spring Training as part of the Pittsburgh Pirates organisation where he remained tied to since being selected in the 21st round of the 2017 Draft following his college career at the University of Missouri.
Glendinning had every right to be excited for what 2021 held for him after how well he played with the Heat last season and that came on the back of good 2019 form firstly in AA at the Altoona Curve and then in A+ baseball with the Bradenton Marauders.
But then COVID-19 struck around the globe and while Glendinning did remain in the United States and the positive was he was able to keep baseball active, he wasn’t actually able to play any games.
Now he has returned home to Perth, has just completed his two weeks in hotel quarantine and given he hasn’t played an official game since that wildcard loss in Canberra last season, he can't wait for the 2020/21 season opener on Friday December 18 also against the Cavalry.
"I feel really good and our group is shaping up to be a good team, and we are just excited to play some sport again. For me after the minor league season got cancelled in America, it means I haven’t played in a long time so I'm just really excited to get out there. I can't wait," Glendinning said on 91.3 SportFM's Sports Line.
"I've been doing everything I can in America to keep active. There are some great facilities so I was able to keep working out to stay sharp baseball-wise.
"I really haven’t stopped working on my game and body, I've kept training hard and kept my motivation up even without getting to play. I definitely missed playing and now I'm just excited to get back out on the dirt."
Never has Glendinning gone so long without playing a game and the fact that it was a playoff loss with the Heat in that last showing makes it sting that little bit more.
But as always the team culture at the Heat is something he can't wait to be part of once again.
"Obviously it does feel like a long, long time ago but it was a tough game and any time you play a wildcard game especially in baseball anything can happen in one game. It didn’t work out for us and left a sour taste in our mouths, but we are excited for this season and to make it right. We just want to go out there and play well," he said.
"The team camaraderie at Perth Heat has always been great just because so many of us have grown up here, and it's a tradition passed down. I grew up watching Heat teams and my dad used to sponsor the team with a rental car company, and I idolised the players as a kid.
"Some of those players are still around in one way or another and there is a really good club culture. We've had a winning history as well and we are looking forward to getting back to that."
The Heat's squad for the 2020/21 season will once again be boosted by seven players sent down under from the Tampa Bay Rays along with two coaches.
That's a relationship that Glendinning has enjoyed being part of in previous seasons and he is looking forward to getting to know his new teammates quickly once they are all out of quarantine and ahead of that first series.
"We are expecting big things from those Rays players. Obviously they have sent some great players in the past with Major Leaguers or guys who have gone on to be Major Leaguers in the past, and it helps us tremendously," Glendinning said.
"Other teams are getting imports and the level of imports we get is usually quite high. We are excited to welcome those guys but at this stage I've only heard of a couple of them and I might have played against one or two of them. But we'll try and help them acclimatise and take part in our culture here at the Heat as quickly as we can."
Coming back home and having to do two weeks of quarantine wasn’t quite the welcome back to Perth that Glendinning hoped for, but it had to be done like the rest of the international arrivals.
He did his best to survive the two weeks without climbing the walls too much and now that he's out, he can't wait to get back to the ballpark and get ready for next Friday.
"The Perth Heat have been good and they dropped us off a little workout pack with some things that we can stay active while in quarantine. So we have been able to get workouts in and thank goodness for that otherwise I would have gone a little bit crazy. It's actually harder than I thought," Glendinning said.
"I didn’t think it would be too hard and I figured I'd just watch Netflix and hang out for two weeks, but I got pretty bored actually and it was pretty tough. I do have my Playstation so I played the new PGA Golf game and was crushing that. I won the PGA Fed-Ex Cup a few times over so I'm kind of finished with that now.
"When I get out it will be all hands on deck. I've got a plan in place from the Pittsburgh Pirates training staff and it's all about not getting back into everything too quick otherwise it can lead to injury. So I'll build up once I get out and then be good to go for our first game next Friday and be ready to play."