Heat im­port eyes up the prize

Joondalup Times - - SPORT - Ben Smith

HE may still be get­ting his head around a coun­try where base­ball is not the na­tional pas­time, but Tris­tan Gray does not feel like a fish out of wa­ter.

The Hous­ton-born bat­ter, on con­tract to the Ma­jor League Base­ball out­fit Tampa Bay Rays, has been one of many Perth Heat high­lights as they chase their first ti­tle since 2015.

Com­ing from a coun­try where base­ball is king can present hur­dles for Aus­tralian Base­ball League im­ports such as Gray.

The 22-year-old, who has played for mi­nor league sides West Vir­ginia Black Bears and Char­lotte Stone Crabs, said he was ad­just­ing well to life in Aus­tralia.

“I haven’t played base­ball in De­cem­ber be­fore in my life; play­ing all these games is some­thing I def­i­nitely had to get used to, but it’s been great so far,” he said.

“Get­ting used to driv­ing and just liv­ing over here prob­a­bly was the big­gest part; the base­ball was the eas­ier thing about it all.

“I’ve never done any­thing like this be­fore.

“See­ing a whole other cul­ture has def­i­nitely been

eye-open­ing, but I’ve loved it so far.”

He put the ease of ad­just­ment down to his team­mates help­ing him set­tle in.

“The guys are pretty help­ful in telling us im­ports

where to go and what to do and what to see; ev­ery­one’s been really help­ful,” Gray said.

Gray sits sec­ond in the league for runs (34), is fourth in home runs (a team

best nine) and is equal sec­ond among Heat bat­ters for hits (42) to help them sit equal top of the South-West Con­fer­ence with one se­ries to play.

Game talk has turned to po­ten­tial post-sea­son suc­cess and while Gray said the team was not get­ting too ahead of them­selves, their fo­cus was clear.

“We’re ex­pect­ing to win,” he said.

Pic­ture: SMP Im­ages

Perth Heat new­comer Tris­tan Gray in ac­tion on the pitch after ad­just­ing to life in Aus­tralia.

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