World Baseball Classic: Australia confident before qualifier
March 2, 2016

Major League star back to spread the gospel

The Newcastle-bred pitcher was back in town on Monday for the start of a two-day coaching clinic at Windsor Park.

The NxtGen Baseball Camp is the brainchild of former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Trent Oeltjen and Rowland-Smith, who ensured his home town was among the six towns the Australian Major League Baseball stars would be visiting.

“Trent Oeltjen and myself, we’ve been talking about doing this for a couple of years and finally got the chance to put it together, so I’m really excited.” Rowland-Smith said.

“I’m having so much fun with these kids and this place holds a special place in my heart too. As I said to Trent I’m so excited about the camp in Newcastle because I’m from here.”

Rowland-Smith became the first Novocastrian to reach baseball’s highest level when he made his Major League debut for the Seattle Mariners in 2007.

The left-hander has thrown in 121 games across four seasons with Mariners and half a season with Arizona.

Rowland-Smith hasn’t been able to make it back to “The Show” since being cut by the Diamondbacks in 2014, but he hasn’t given up on his Major League dream just yet.

He had knee surgery to clean up his meniscus six weeks ago and is hoping to return to the diamond when Australia take on New Zealand, South Africa and the Philippines at the World Baseball Classic Qualifier, in Sydney next month.

“As soon as the qualifiers are over I’m on a plane back to Arizona and I’ve got a bunch of [Major League] teams to throw for there during spring training.”

Rowland-Smith injured his knee while playing for the Gigantes del Cubao in the Dominican Winter League, a stint he had hoped would put back in the shop window for MLB franchises.

“That was going to be my showcase for teams, so I prepped for that and that’s where I hurt my knee,” he said.

“I pitched two games, the knee was strapped up but I was in pain so after two games I said sorry guys.

“You’ve got big leaguers all throughout that league, so it’s a great place to play, filled with scouts. That’s where you go if you want to get back.”

But for now Rowland-Smith’s main focus is inspiring Generation Next.