Only one piece of news could cheer up the Werribee Giants after Saturday’s disappointing 9-3 western derby loss to the Williamstown Wolves – the long-awaited arrival of star import Jose Ruiz.
The Venezuelan has landed and reports for duty on Sunday when the Giants travel to Berwick City for their blockbuster round eight Baseball Victoria division 2 battle with the ladder leader.
It was a rigorous process for the Giants to get Ruiz across the line. They desperately wanted him on the field weeks ago and Ruiz was keen to begin his stint with the club, but the red tape had to be untangled before the infielder was officially a Giant.
Giants’ president Ben Bavdek told Star Weekly it had been worth the wait.
“A lot of the clubs don’t really go for South American players because there’s a lot more paperwork involved,” he said. “There’s a lot of visas and a sponsorship is needed, so the club is actually going to become a sponsor.
“It was a long time coming. I think we started the process in early July, but it’s worth it in the end. Now that he’s here and in the uniform, it makes us feel a little bit tingly around the club.”
The Giants have taken a different route to most other clubs with their import. Historically, clubs have targeted pitchers from overseas, but the Giants opted to bolster their batting line-up.
The Giants have a gun young pitcher in Wes DeJong and new recruit Josh Lee to shoulder the pitching workload. Ruiz will add much-needed firepower to the offence.
“We went for something the club really hasn’t had, which was more of a hitting type of player who can play pretty much any position in the field,” Bavdek said. “He’s good in the middle infield, can play third base and first base, but he’s here to hit bombs, really.
“He will give us that boost in offence that we’ve struggled with and hopefully will change our tally from three runs to six or seven runs a game.
“Oliver [Box] has done his job every year, Evan [McPherson] is up and coming and is hitting the ball well, John Curnow is the same; it’s just that extra batter in the line-up that should make a big difference.”
Playing abroad is not foreign to Ruiz. Over the past three years, he has played in the US for division 2 college Oklahoma Wesleyan University Eagles.
In a historic season, Ruiz claimed national player of the year honours, leading the Eagles to their best record of 58-8.
“There was a lot of pressure on him and he did well in college,” Bavdek said. “He can play.”
On Saturday, the Giants and their supporters raised about $2500 for cancer research on their pink day. Unfortunately, they couldn’t raise their game against the Wolves and were out-played for the most part.
“We just weren’t on,” Bavdek said. “They got the jump on us, scored a couple of runs and we were chasing our tail after that.”
It could be the wake-up call the Giants need ahead of the important clash away to Berwick City on Sunday.
“It gives you a good reality check,” Bavdek said. “Sometimes it’s sunshine and rainbows and other times it’s a kick in the pants.”
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