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Dealing Aces: Aussie Red Sox prospect eyes ABL redemption

MELBOURNE pitcher and Boston Red Sox prospect Daniel McGrath knows the only way to make up for missing a championship is to help the Aces defend their Australian Baseball League crown.By the time McGrath checks into hotel quarantine in Sydney next month the left-handed pitcher will be wound up ready to pitch five or six…

MELBOURNE pitcher and Boston Red Sox prospect Daniel McGrath knows the only way to make up for missing a championship is to help the Aces defend their Australian Baseball League crown.

By the time McGrath checks into hotel quarantine in Sydney next month the left-handed pitcher will be wound up ready to pitch five or six innings — even if the catcher is an upright bed mattress.

“Every day you don’t do something you need a day and maybe a day and a half to (make up for it),” McGrath told News Australia from Boston.

“If you’re out for three weeks to get throwing ready you need three weeks, if you have three weeks off to be able to get on a mound and be ready to throw in a game you probably need five-six weeks.”

Barring any scheduling issues, McGrath will have a four-week runway after quarantine to be ready for the opening round against Sydney Blue Sox.

It will be McGrath’s seventh ABL campaign after a mystery illness ruled him out last season.

McGrath wasted seven kilograms in six days last year in December trying to battle the bug.

“I couldn’t get out of bed for 72 hours,” McGrath said.

“We had to delay my flight for five days because … my back got really messed up and I couldn’t fly, I couldn’t sit up straight.

“I actually lost a bit of my vision, in terms of my balance, there was a fluid build-up in my cerebellum and I couldn’t see moving objects for three weeks.”

If missing out on a championship was not bad enough, the cancellation of the Minor League season due to the global pandemic was the hammer blow.

This really could have been the year McGrath earned a dream Major League debut after being elevated to Triple-A Pawtucket following a breakout 7-1 (1.68 ERA) record in Double-A.

A non-roster invitation to Red Sox spring training, where McGrath pitched in two games, was another step in the right direction.

But McGrath, who has tested negative to the coronavirus antibodies, which confirmed his mystery illness last year was not undiagnosed COVID-19, is determined to look forward, not back.

“This year and the next couple years were going to be the years to hopefully try and break through (to the Major League),” McGrath said.

“It is frustrating but at the end of the day it is sports.”

McGrath returns to the Aces hungry to make the most of the untimely gap year and confident the body of work in the ABL will only enhance his chances at Boston next year.

“It’s (ABL) a professional league in terms of winning, not there to be there,” McGrath said, referring to the most noticeable change to the Australian domestic league since its rebirth almost a decade ago.

“We’re actually there with a goal, rather than everyone shows up and be there, when I was there two years ago the culture was super good.

“You get a couple of players here and there and they thrive in that culture and you have a winning team.”

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