Ipswich-based Brisbane Bandit Andrew Campbell is off to the US for spring training with the Cleveland Indians.
Ipswich-based Brisbane Bandit Andrew Campbell is off to the US for spring training with the Cleveland Indians. Rob Williams

Campbell set for Indian spring

WITH the Australian baseball season coming to an end next month, many players will be looking forward to a long rest - but Ipswich Musketeers player Andrew Campbell won't be one of them.

After a breakout season with the Brisbane Bandits in the Australian Baseball League, the Yamanto product hopes to take his form and confidence with him when he heads to the USA in March.

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It will be the third time Campbell, who is contracted with the Cleveland Indians, has travelled to the baseball mecca to further his game but the first time he has attended a Major League spring training camp.

After attending the Indians' extended spring training for rookies last year, Campbell will spend pre-season training this year with some of the game's elite at the club's regular spring training camp in Arizona.

"Everyone goes there for a month from Major Leaguers to rookie-ballers," Campbell said of the American baseball institution.

"After the month is up, the long-season players leave and other players stay for extended spring training."

Two other Australians Mitch Neilson and Ryan Bataglia will join Campbell in Arizona with the three planning to share a house during the camp.

Both players travelled to the USA with Campbell last year easing some of the pressure on the rookie players.

With hundreds of players vying for positions in one of seven different divisional teams, Campbell said the pressure to perform made it difficult to build new friendships at the camps.

"Everyone is fighting for a spot," Campbell said of the cut-throat system.

"You try and have a team bonding atmosphere but in the end you are all fighting for your own spot.

"You can't really look on them as your mates, they are trying to take your position.

"But when you get into a team, you play for each other."

The Ipswich Musketeers infielder played a full season for the Arizona Indians in the Arizona Rookie League last year but is setting his sights higher in 2012.

"I want to get to long ball team," he said.

"But having only spent one year in a rookie ball team, I don't know what my chances are.

"Hopefully, if I hit them well enough at spring training, they might consider me."

Like many other young Australian baseballers before him, Campbell would love nothing more than to carve out his own Major League career.

But the level-headed 19-year-old plans to keep those dreams in check and take care of the little things that contribute to success.

"I don't think you can say you're going to be a major leaguer, there are just too many things that can happen," he said.

"You just have to work hard and do what you can and hopefully you can get there."

The specialist lead-off hitter said he learnt a lot from his US season last year and was targeting consistency as a goal for this season.

"I was hitting over .300 for the whole season but ended up hitting only .265 after a slack end to the year," he said.

"They have really hard pitchers but they don't have the control of the ABL guys."

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