Former MLB pitcher and NZ team signing says there is 'real talent' for baseball in NZ

Former Major League Baseball player Josh Collmenter says there is a lot of “real talent” in New Zealand and he hopes to inspire some youngsters to great careers during his time here playing and coaching,

The former Diamondbacks and Braves pitcher is one of the first of some big names locked in to play for New Zealand's first professional team in its inaugural season in the Australian Baseball League.

Collmenter is also coaching during his time in New Zealand and has been impressed by the talent.

“There is a lot of real talent here and they’re seeing that with the younger kids getting involved and then by the time they get to 15 or 18 or whatever they’re really good ball players.”

“I know a lot of the guys haven’t played baseball long or especially pitchers so just seeing what they have naturally, it’s fun to be able to impart a little bit of wisdom or maybe a couple of pointers that will hopefully take them to where they want to go.”

“For such a small country, obviously they have success in a lot of other sports, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t be able to have success in baseball.”

As far as signing with the yet to be named New Zealand ABL franchise, Collmenter says the opportunity to be part of something new, along with the coaching, was appealing.

“It was kind of an exciting premise to be part of something new and Ryan (Baseball NZ CEO Ryan Flynn) was telling me a little bit more about Baseball NZ and the fact they’ve bought over some major leaguers before.”

“It was just a good opportunity for me to one, continue my career, and two, do it in a place I’ve never been before.”

“To be part of something brand new and what they’re building with Baseball NZ and to work with the kids and hopefully give them some inspiration and see where baseball can potentially take them.”

Collmenter says he’s enjoyed a week of New Zealand winter after escaping the stifling Arizona summer but he is already jetting off with the national under-15 team to Taiwan as their pitching coach.

There is no word yet on what the Auckland professional team will be named but it's expected to be announced in the coming weeks. 

The former Diamondbacks and Braves pitcher headlines the signings ahead of the unnamed NZ team’s inaugural season in the Australia Baseball League. Source: 1 NEWS


Watch: MLB batter mortified after bat slips out of hands, flies into crowd and hits fan

MLB slugger Devon Travis was left visibly shaken in his game yesterday after an at-bat went horribly wrong and his bat hit a fan in the forehead.

Travis was batting in the eighth innings for the Blue Jays in their contest against the Red Sox when his bat slipped out of his hands on a big swing.

The bat managed to clear the netting which stretches down the baseline at Fenway Park in Boston, soaring nearly 15 rows into the crowd before it hit a fan.

Security rushed to the injured fan's aid with towels and a stretcher while also taking the bat away.

The injured supporter managed to stand on his own though, pumping his left fist to thank the crowd as he received a huge cheer.

Travis' night got worse with the Blue Jays going down to the Red Sox 1-0, giving the Boston franchise their 100th win of the season.



'He's a little dog' - Kiwi UFC fighter Mark Hunt unloads verbal tirade on 'weak minded' drug cheat Fabricio Werdrum

New Zealand mixed martial arts veteran Mark Hunt has unleashed a tirade of verbal assaults at former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum ahead of his bout at UFC Fight Night in Russia.

Hunt is headlining the UFC event at Moscow's Olympic Stadium, set to fight Alexei Oleinik on Sunday (NZ time).

He told media he was excited to fight in Russia and was extra pleased to fight someone close to his age.

"He's a clean fighter, so it's great,” said Hunt.

The 44-year-old has had a long battle against performance enhancing drugs after facing a rivals who had failed tests, namely former champion Brock Lesnar.

Hunt unloaded a war of words on Werdum after he was handed a two-year suspension by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

"I'm glad that Fabricio Werdum got caught, that little b****," said Hunt.

"Go back to the favelas. F*** you, you little c***. Good job. He was supposed to be here, but that's what you get for being weak. That's what you get, Fabricio, for being a weak-minded person. See you later."

Mark Hunt v Fabricio Werdum Source: Associated Press

Werdum was meant to face Oleinik in Russia but was withdrawn after an out-of-competition test conducted in April showed the steroid trenbolone and metabolite epitrenbolone in his sample.

Hunt has fought several fighters who have failed drug tests - Lesnar, Frank Mir and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva.

His UFC 180 fight with Werdum is topical, with the Brazilian fighter going on to win the UFC's interim heavyweight belt and then going on to beat Cain Velasquez for the undisputed heavyweight title.

"I had to lose 21 kilograms in three and a half weeks to make that a title fight," Hunt said.

"I got kneed in the head by that little cheater. Then he beats Cain in Mexico. That really upsets me about that guy.

"Then he wouldn't fight me – he's just a cheating little b***, man. He's a little dog, that guy. See you later, Fabricio. Enjoy, mother f*****.”

Hunt has a MMA record of 13 wins 12 losses and 1 draw with eight wins in the UFC, six losses and one no contest bout.




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New Kiwi baseball team attempting to lure young Black Sox softball star

The manager of New Zealand's first professional baseball team is trying to lure one of the country's best softball players back to the other side.

Steve Mintz is in the country ahead of trials for the Auckland Tuatara in three main centres this weekend and says they want Pita Rona there.

“I reached out to him and he showed some interest,” Mintz told 1 NEWS.

“We’re hoping he comes out and we’ll see what he’s got.”

Rona was tipped for big things in baseball after signing a contract with the Baltimore Orioles but he was released after two years in 2014.

The 24-year-old recently arrived back in New Zealand after touring Europe with the World Champion Black Sox where he helped the side win the Intercontinental Cup in Prague.

The Auckland Tuatara have invited Pita Rona to trials this weekend. Source: 1 NEWS