By Lance Jenkinson
Sunshine Eagles have suffered a blow with star catcher Allan de San Miguel to miss the Baseball Victoria summer league division 1 finals.
De San Miguel, a Melbourne Aces championship winner earlier this month, was hoping to achieve a rare double premiership this summer, but has informed the Eagles that he will not be available.
While he intends to continue on as a player with the Eagles next season, the 32-year-old’s professional career in baseball will soon turn from playing to coaching.
De San Miguel’s last assignment as a professional player will be with the Australian national team, where he is hoping to be part of a run to the Olympics.
In the meantime, de San Miguel will continue his coaching with the Kansas City Royals in Major League Baseball, where he spent the past few seasons as a player in the minor leagues.
De San Miguel will be required to report to spring training with the Royals at the same time the Eagles are taking flight in the summer league finals.
“I’ve got to head back to the States on the 29th of February and start my Kansas City Royals duties on the 2nd of March,” he said.
“It’s a shame that I won’t be here for the playoffs. “It’s going to suck not being a part of it because I missed out on it last year too.”
De San Miguel expects Sunshine to be there at the pointy end of the campaign.
In his view, the Eagles are better placed to challenge for the title than they were last season and also set up better for a sustained period at the top.
“We’ve scored a lot more runs, the team batting average is a lot higher and everyone is doing their role and improved so much more from last year,” de San Miguel said.
“Even though we finished in first place last year [before getting knocked out in the finals], we’re still getting better and that’s really good to see from a club point of view.
“We want to try and grow the club and get them bigger and stronger.
“We’re trying to enforce one main goal and it’s to not rock up to the field, participate and be satisfied by that, when we go to the ballpark, we’re here to win, we’re here to get better and win a championship for the club.”
De San Miguel announced his retirement from Melbourne Aces in the weeks leading up to the ABL finals.
Securing the Aces first championship was the perfect way for him to bow out.
De San Miguel is a five-time ABL championship winner, including four titles with his hometown Perth Heat.
Retirement was a little easier for de San Miguel than most because his body dictated the process.
“If you’ve caught 17 years like I have with knees that feel like mine, just let me know how you feel,” he said with a laugh.
Sunshine went down 6-1 to Fitzroy Lions at Barclay Reserve on Saturday.
The Eagles remain the team with the best record two games out from finals.