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Heat prepare for hectic schedule in Brisbane


Perth Heat's Grant Witherspoon (SMP Images)

Perth Heat manager Andy Kyle has no doubt his hungry playing group are going to be up for the challenge of making up for lost time by playing eight Australian Baseball League matches in Brisbane over the next seven days.


The Heat have just played one of their scheduled eight matches this ABL season but all of a sudden now in the Queensland hub they will have eight matches split between the Brisbane Bandits and Adelaide Giants over the next seven days.

The home series prior to Christmas never happened and then the Heat played one game against the Melbourne Aces on New Year's Eve, a 1-0 defeat, and then had to fly out quickly on Friday morning to avoid having to quarantine for two weeks upon their return to Western Australia.


So now having had things thrown into chaos and had more matches taken away from them than they've been able to play, all of a sudden the Heat are preparing for eight games in the coming seven days.


It all starts on Tuesday against the Brisbane Bandits before the Heat then take on the Adelaide Giants on Wednesday ahead of a double-header against both on Thursday.


They then play Brisbane again on Saturday, Adelaide on Sunday and both in a double-header on Monday before all three teams head to South Australia to join another hub.


Heat manager Andy Kyle knows the happens of the past week are hardly ideal, but now he's glad to have games to be preparing for.


"It's been hectic obviously. We were kind of prepared for something like this to happen at stage and we got the call from our GM just before that first game on Thursday," Kyle said.


"We had to have a chat to the guys before they started getting messages from back home that we would be playing just that one game that night before getting on the flight in the morning.


"The guys have been outstanding in how they've handled it all and it's just a day to day proposition at the moment. We've just checked into a new hotel in Brisbane and are ready for the eight games over the next seven days."


Looking back on that one game the Heat did get to play in Melbourne on New Year's Eve, the pitching of Dylan Unsworth, Zac Reininger and Alan Strong while the Heat actually had the better of the hitting too led by Tampa Bay Rays prospect Grant Witherspoon.


They ended up losing 1-0 but Kyle saw a lot to like that they can now build on.


"It was outstanding from our pitching to be honest and it was a really good competitive game, and probably exactly what we needed," he said.


"There was outstanding pitching from both sides but we hit the ball well and had three balls off the wall, and had some runners in scoring position but just couldn’t get that big hit.


"But I thought the guys put some good swings into balls and Dylan gave us five quality innings of shutout pitching. Both relievers did well but they just got their execution a little bit better at the end of the day."


With the usual ABL schedule pitting two games against one another in a four-game series, playing two different opponents alternatively throws up another challenge, but Kyle is confident his team is ready to deal with it.


"It is going to be a little different switching between opponents and it's kind of like that tournament play more than the series that we are used to," he said.


"But a lot of our guys do a lot of that internationally and on the home front so for us it's more about dealing with the line-up changes day to day along with some double-headers.


"The quick turnarounds mean we have to make sure we are always prepared for what's to come the next day. It's going to be chaotic and interesting that's for sure, but everyone is just excited to play and to get out there."


Kyle did notice the mindset of his players really challenged with what eventuated in Melbourne last week, but they have now refocused in Brisbane and he has no doubt they are ready for the hectic schedule that's to come.


"The players have been outstanding despite how tough it has been. I'm not going to lie, it has been tough mentally especially with that first series at home cancelled and then it wasn’t until we got off the flight to Melbourne last week that we even knew there were any cases there again," Kyle said.


"That created a bit of angst in the group but it was good to still get out and play that one game, I think that was important.


"There was a bit of uncertainty in the group when we first got up here to Brisbane but we've had a couple of good sessions and now that the games are upon the guys are picking up again and just can't wait to get out there."


Playing eight games across seven days including two double-header days is going to mean recovery is key for the Heat to continue to perform well along with mixing up the line-ups from Kyle to keep everyone fresh.


"It's really important to focus on our recovery and preparation between games while the other factor is that the weather over here is hot and humid," Kyle said.


"So that's different to the heat we are used to back home so we will have to make sure we manage our hydration well on the double-headers and back to back games.


"The guys haven’t played heavy baseball consistently for a long time so just getting up every day is going to be tough but we have a fantastic physio who'll keep on top of the guys' soreness.


"We might have to rotate through some of the position players more than anything depending on how they are feeling from day to day, and game to game when it becomes a bit of a grind.


"We'll go by what we see and what they tell us, and manage it from there. We have plenty of pitchers to get through so it's just the other guys we might need to rotate a little."


PERTH HEAT IN QUEENSLAND HUB

All games played at Viticon Stadium

Live on Fox Sports and Kayo

Listed in WST


TUESDAY

v Brisbane Bandits 12pm


WEDNESDAY

v Adelaide Giants 8am


THURSDAY

v Adelaide Giants 8am

v Brisbane Bandits 4.30pm


SATURDAY

v Brisbane Bandits 4.30pm


SUNDAY

v Adelaide Giants 8am


MONDAY

v Adelaide Giants 8am

v Brisbane Bandits 12pm


By Chris Pike.