Black Sox captain Casley targets world champs

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 23/11/2012

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Black Sox captain Rhys Casley insists he will get over shoulder surgery in time to lead the team's bid to regain their world men's softball championship title in March.

The Hutt Valley stalwart had an operation in Wellington's Southern Cross Hospital a fortnight ago but he said he was already "lifting some light weights" and expects to be back playing a month before the tournament.

Casley was confined to a dugout role in the Black Sox's internal tour which ended on Wednesday but he said there was no way he would miss the world championship tournament in Auckland from March 1 to 10.

"The surgery was a little bit more extensive than we anticipated. But the surgeon said it went really well. It's usually a six to nine-month recovery but he's confident he can put me through in three to four months with a pretty extensive rehab programme.

"I'm already out of the sling and back into rehab lifting some light weights, which is fantastic and I only had the operation two weeks ago."

The 33-year-old outfielder said he had been "asymptomatic" until a freak basepaths injury while playing for the New York Gremlins at the International Softball Congress tournament in the United States in mid-August.

"I was rounding second base and I collided with a fielder, it seemed pretty innocuous. There wasn't a lot of pain but as soon as I went to throw a ball, I knew there was something wrong so I went straight to the emergency room."

After returning to New Zealand, Casley discovered "the bicep tendon was torn off the bone and my labrum was pretty torn up". The surgeon had to "drill some anchors and sew it all back together".

He thought he would only need arthroscopic surgery but "they ended up opening my shoulder right up".

Casley said he had "a bit of time" before surgery to get his arm as strong as possible which he hoped would help his rehabilitation.

"I am targeting either the Brother Patrick [tournament] or the Dean Schick [series] to be back. They're in late-January and early-February. I'm going to be working hard to get right."

The captain isn't the only Black Sox veteran on the casualty list.

Long-time catcher or designated player Patrick Shannon is recovering from a fractured wrist after he was hit by a pitch during the North American season.

Shannon is ready to resume playing but Casley said Black Sox management had asked him not to take the diamond for another few weeks as a precaution.

Meanwhile, Black Sox pitcher Penese Iosefo's hopes of being fit for the Canterbury Red Sox's National Fastpitch Championship campaign will be known on Sunday.

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Iosefo, who had a car accident in Dunedin this month, has two broken ribs and faces a race against time to be ready for the NFC tournament in Auckland next month.

Four Canterbury Red Hawks players - infielders Mikayla Werahiko and Cassie Siataga, outfielder Robyn Hall and pitcher-outfielder Lauren Sutherland - will play for the New Zealand White Sox selection in the second round of the Gilley's Shield inter-state competition in Adelaide this weekend.

- The Press

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