No to Tokyo
By STEVE SPINKS
LISMORE'S explosive pitcher, Matt Gahan, has knocked back an offer to play professional baseball in Japan.
Gahan, who is keen to fight his way back into the Australian team for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, turned down the offer only weeks ago.
"I turned it down for personal reasons," Gahan said.
"John Deeble (Australian coach) was keen for me to go.
"Four Australian players will be with one team in Tokyo, and 20 Australians will be in another league.
"But he (Deeble) is still pretty keen for me to potentially pitch at the world titles at the end of this year in the Netherlands.
"I may go to Japan next year."
The offer was to join an industrial league team which is a level below the major league.
"The Japanese love guys who can throw above 90 miles an hour (about 145 km/h)," Gahan said.
Gahan, who at 25 was the oldest Australian to be signed by an American professional clubn, announced his return as a major force in Australian baseball at the Claxton Shield this year.
The 29-year-old right-hander played for Queensland and had a fastest pitch of 93mph (148.8km/h). He also regularly reached speeds between 90mph and 92mph.
Gahan, who has just finished playing in the Brisbane competition, is having a break before he resumes playing in the Far North Coast Major League with Marist Brothers in the second half of the season.
"I'm keen to work my butt off and try to get into the best shape of my career," he said.
"When I was lighting up the speed gun at the Claxton Shield, Deeble got in my ear and basically told me I had wasted my talent.
"That stirred me up a little bit, so I have nothing to lose now."