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Wednesday, 22 June 2011 16:54

Killishaw returns to baseball after six year hiatus

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Craig Killishaw never thought he would play baseball again when he retired from the sport in 2005.

The left-handed pitcher was trying to make his way into Major League Baseball, which included a stop with the Saskatoon Legends of the short-lived Canadian Baseball League in 2003. He never did make it to the top tier of baseball and eventually decided to hang up his cleats for good.

In March 2011, however, he moved to Swift Current with his wife, Erin. Killishaw met up with Conrad Funk, who he played with at Winthrop University, and was convinced to join the Swift Current Indians this season.

“I love the game of baseball,” said Killishaw. “It’s nice to come out and see the young guys and what see it’s like to be at this age again and just being out there on the mound. It’s good times.”

After a six year absence from the game, Killishaw returned to the mound as a Swift Current Indian June 16 in the Indians’ 7-5 against the Yorkton Cardinals.

The six-foot-two, 190-pound left-handed pitcher surrendered two runs — one of which was earned — and one hit in one and two-thirds innings.

Killishaw, 31, felt he had a good debut in the Western Major Baseball League, especially considering he had only been training for about three weeks before pitching live again.

“People say it’s like riding a bike, but it has been a long time,” said Killishaw, who throws fastballs, change-ups and curveballs. “I was a little bit rusty. I opened up a little bit and felt a little bit tired, but other than that it felt pretty good.”

Indians’ manager Joe Carnahan is expecting Killishaw to give the Tribe a lot of quality innings out of the bullpen this season.

Carnahan was a bit surprised the team’s oldest player would be available so early in the season after Killishaw’s long layoff from baseball.

The Indians’ skipper doesn’t think it will take long for Killishaw to play like he did before he retired from baseball.

“He used to be a professional athlete and keeps himself in good shape,” said Carnahan. “It’s a matter of getting his muscle memory back from throwing off the mound and getting his arm in shape because the rest of his body is good.

“I didn’t think he’d develop this quickly, but that’s a tribute to him and his physical conditioning and it will only get better and better as the season goes on.”

Killishaw has yet to appear in any other games for the Indians.

The Tribe hit the road following their two-game sweep of the Cardinals where they dropped a 4-2 decision to Okotoks June 17. Their rematch the next day was rained out. A make-up date has not been set.

Swift Current then lost in Regina 5-2 before winning their first road game of the season 9-5 in Moose Jaw June 21 to improve the teams’ record to 8-6.

Swift Current is back in action when the Tribe host Saskatoon tonight and Okotoks on Thursday at Mitchell Field.

The Indians are back in Moose Jaw June 24 before visiting Medicine Hat June 25 and Weyburn June 27. They return home to host Lethbridge June 28 and Saskatoon June 30. Both home games are scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. at Mitchell Field.

Killishaw hopes he will get more appearances in some of those games, but he has one thing to work on first.

“I need to get my arm stronger,” he said. “It has only been about three weeks since I’ve been throwing, but I’ll get stronger each time.

“I just want to go out there and help the team as much as I can. I want to throw two or three innings here or there and help shut the other teams down.”

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