Major League pitcher boosts Giants’ hopes
David Holmberg stood on the Chase Field pitcher's mound and paused to contemplate his baseball journey.
The left-hander was a starter for Arizona Diamondbacks in his Major League debut against San Diego Padres in August 2013, four years after entering the professional ranks.
But the steep learning curve Holmberg encountered in the first of his 51 games in the bigs would not end there for Adelaide Giants' star recruit.
"I went from playing kids to playing grown men that day," Holmberg, 28, recalled.
"It's incredible the feeling you have the first time you put on a Major League uniform.
"It was very exciting, almost to the point that you kind of forget some little details because you're that excited, and it was a fun day for sure.
"I thought that was the culmination of my career.
"But there were so many more things to be learned and, moving forward, there's a lot that I can still learn.
"I'm sure those (Major League) guys who are at the top of their game still get taught something every once in a while too."
Holmberg, who arrived at Adelaide this week, threw 3.2 innings to help the Diamondbacks to a 10-9 extra-inning win, but was traded to Cincinnati Reds just three months later.
He brought a wealth of experience from a typically nomadic baseball adventure, including stints with Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles and Colorado Rockies.
The Texas-born, Florida-raised athlete is set to lead the SA club's charge when it opens its Australian Baseball League season at home to reigning champion Brisbane Bandits on Friday.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the competition and seeing how we look when we get out there," said Holmberg, who played independent league for Somerset Patriots this year.
"I hope to help the team and keep the team in ball games - throughout my career, I've been pretty good at that.
"I'm somebody who wants eyes on me in the bullpen and I'm not somebody who barks at a coach for telling me what to do.
"I hope I can pass some things on, but I was telling the younger guys... they need to teach me a couple of things too.
"It's always a give and take."
Canadian pitcher Evan Rutckyj also joined Adelaide this week, but Miami Marlins prospect Dusten Knight was no longer SA-bound due to personal reasons.
Shortstop Mikey Reynolds, back for his second campaign, said a raft of quality imports and the continuity of fellow returning talents had raised hopes of a finals push.
The American averaged .366 at the plate - the third highest in the competition - last summer and was named the league's batting champion as the Giants, then the Bite, finished sixth.
Catcher Logan O'Hoppe, 19, hoped to push his case for future Major League action during the US off-season as one of six Philadelphia Phillies affiliates on the books.
"It's a lifelong dream that I don't take for granted," 188cm O'Hoppe said.
"Every day I take the time to appreciate that.
"The atmosphere is a lot more laid-back (than in the US), which is great for all of us (imports).
"But I'm eager to see how it helps me going forward into Spring training."
Friday's match at Adelaide Shores Baseball Complex begins at 7.20pm, before two games on Saturday (4pm and 7pm) and one on Sunday (12pm) to round out the series.
ADELAIDE GIANTS 2019/20 ROSTER
Dustin Beggs* (parent club: Miami Marlins, US)
Ryan Chaffee* (Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, US)
Tom Fitzgerald (Mainz Athletics, Germany)
David Holmberg* (Somerset Patriots, US)
Gunnar Kines* (Schaumburg Boomers, US)
Daigo Nushijima* (Honda, Japan)
Daina Ono* (Honda)
Evan Rutckyj* (Ottawa Champions, Canada)
Markus Solbach* (LA Dodgers, US)
Mitchell Edwards (Philadelphia Phillies, US)
Logan O'Hoppe* (Philadelphia Phillies)
Curtis Mead (Philadelphia Phillies)
Jordan McArdle (Hrosi Brno, Czech Republic)
Eric Peterson* (LA Dodgers)
Mikey Reynolds* (Sussex County Miners, US)
Cole Stobbe* (Philadelphia Phillies)
Rixon Wingrove (Philadelphia Phillies)
Ben Aklinski* (Philadelphia Phillies)
Aaron Whitefield (Minnesota Twins, US)