Dening’s insights a key to Aussie success
13 February 2017
BASEBALL: Mitch Dening has an insight into Japanese baseball that no other player on the 2017 World Baseball Classic team has.
Dening is the only member of the team to have played in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the number one league in Japan.
“Playing in the NPB was a life changing experience,” Dening reminisced.
“After spending nine years in minor league baseball in America and Japan, going through the grind and making it to the top level, it was an incredible time for me.”
Dening racked up 64 games for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, picking up 42 hits, 22 RBI and four home runs to finish with a .222 batting average, as well as an understanding of how the Japanese play, and what to expect from their fans.
“Everything gets you so excited to play the game,” Dening said.
“There are 50,000 people in the crowd with drums, trumpets and it really keeps you in the game. Every player has a different chant, it really takes a bit of the pressure off knowing the support is there. It was a real eye opener for me, and I’m sure it’ll be just the same for some of the rookies on the team.”
After playing in the last two World Baseball Classic’s, Dening is pulling no punches about the strength of Team Australia’s 2017 WBC roster.
“This is the strongest Australian team I’ve been apart of,” Dening said.
“We’d like to beat up on China, and then be able to compete with Japan and Cuba for a spot in the next round. A lot of the guys have put their hand up to play in this tournament, and if there’s ever going to be a time where we make some noise, it’s right now.”
Dening’s competitive nature and intensity is well known in Australian baseball circles, combine that with the experience of playing at the top level in Japan and you have a vital piece in Australia’s quest for history at the World Baseball Classic.