08/05/10 10:10 PM ET
Kelley has setback in rehab
By Jim Street / MLB.com
Rowland-Smith excited for ball 'Down Under'
SEATTLE -- Ryan Rowland-Smith is 100 percent behind the return of professional baseball to his native Australia.It was jointly announced on Thursday by Major League Baseball and the Australia Baseball Federation that professional baseball will return to Australia in November with the launch of the Australian Baseball League. The ABL will provide the vast talent pool of baseball players from Australia with the opportunity to compete in an elite national league, which will serve as a pipeline to MLB and other international leagues. MLB has partnered with the Australian Baseball Federation in support of the league. "When I was a kid growing up in the mid-'90s, we had a professional league but it got shut down," the Mariners left-hander said. "It was really disappointing because I couldn't see any live, quality baseball." The inaugural ABL season will run from November through January and consist of six teams, representing Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide. The six teams, stocked with prospects from several countries, will be aligned in a single division with each team playing a 40-game schedule. Each team will play a four-game series at home and away against each of the other five teams. The top four teams at the end of the regular season will move on to the playoffs, consisting of three best-of-three-game series. The playoffs will run from the last week of January through the second week of February. Rowland-Smith said he has arranged his offseason schedule so that he will spend November and December in Australia to help the ABL be successful. "I would like to be involved in any way I can to help the profile of it, possibly from a media level," he said. "Being more of a senior member of Australian Baseball Federation, me and hopefully some of the other guys, like Grant Balfour, will do the same thing."
Two sides of Figgins
SEATTLE -- It has been a season of changes for Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins.He left the Angels via free agency and signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Mariners. He also changed positions, moving from third base in Anaheim to second base in Seattle. But the most eye-popping thing of all could be the differences in batting averages for the switch-hitter. He batted .322 with five home runs and 42 RBIs in 410 at-bats against right-handed pitchers last season, compared to a .246 average, no home runs and 11 RBIs in 203 at-bats against lefties. This season, he's batting .308 in 130 at-bats against left-handers and .216 in 264 at-bats against right-handers. Go figure.
Mariners left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith, currently on the 15-day disabled list, is scheduled to start for Triple-A Tacoma against Iowa on Saturday. He threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and received clearance to return to the mound. He'll be on a 75-90-pitch limit. ... Catcher Josh Bard is still battling a stiff neck, but he was available for duty in Thursday night's game. ... With three more saves, David Aardsma will move into fifth place on the franchise's all-time list.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.