By Lance Jenkinson
Jayson Arthur was born ready.
The 20-year-old needed no second invitation when new coach David Clarkson announced that he would be the pitching ace of the Dandenong-based Mulgrave Rebels in Baseball Victoria summer league Division 2 this season.
Arthur takes great pride in being anointed the Rebels’ number one pitcher and embraces the responsibility that comes with it.
“I’ve been waiting for it for a long time,” he said.
“I just like the pressure, I like being in the spotlight when I’m out there.
“I like to slow the game down and control it and take it into my own hands.
“I feel like I’ve always been ready for it.
“It’s just now is the time.”
Arthur knows the role is not only measured by his ERA or his strike count.
Sure, getting the Rebels off on the right note with a strong pitching performance is his key responsibility, but he sees that as only half his job.
The Rebels will be looking for Arthur to be a leader on and off the field.
It is a role that he is keen to grow in and be that positive influence when the chips are down.
“I’m happy to lead the way, even with the young fellas, help them out a bit,” Arthur said.
“Just do what I can for the club and just try to be a good person, a good leader and a good mentor.
“When we do get down and times get tough, I want to amp the team up and get them going because I feel like having that one person amp the rest of the team up, they can feed off that.
“When we’re down in situations like that, you need someone who is full of energy to get the rest of the blokes going.”
While Arthur understands the importance of being relied upon as the pitching ace, he knows it is just one role in a bigger team environment.
“It’s not all about me, it’s what we can do as a team,” he said.
Arthur is excited by what the summer ahead holds for the Rebels.
They missed out on the finals last year, but showed glimpses of their potential.
Arthur believes the talent was in the squad last year, but it lacked the will to fight out games.
He knows the Rebels need to get tougher mentally if they are to make inroads on the top sides.
“It’s important that when we’re behind in games, we don’t give up,” he said.
“Last season we did that a fair bit.
“We’ve got some good blokes together – they’re young, but they’re a good bunch of blokes.
“We all have the talent and we all have the hunger for it, so we want to win now.”
Coach Clarkson is excited to be able to work with Arthur.
He rates the young left handed pitcher from Safety Beach one of the best arms in the competition who could “win us five or six games with his pitching”.
Arthur, formerly of Division 1 club Sandringham Royals, knows he has that potential.
When he clicks into his zone, opposition batters are in for a tough day.
“I kind of see myself as a bit of a bulldog on the mound,” Arthur said.
“I feel like when I get into a little bubble, no one can sort of stop me.”
Arthur feels like he is a step ahead of the batters before taking to the mound.
A student of baseball, he is constantly analysing opponents and doing vital preparation ahead of the one-on-one battle within the game.
“Whenever I’m not playing, I’m watching,” Arthur said.
“Even when I was a little tacker as a bat boy, I’ve seen these guys, I’ve seen how they play and I’ve seen what they look for in pitches.
“Just doing the little things like before a game, I’ll go and watch them hit and I know how their swings are.
“Once you’ve seen what they do and how they do it, you figure out little holes that you can go for.”
Arthur is fresh and ready to hit the 2020-21 season in full ‘bulldog mode’.
The extended off-season due to the pandemic could be a blessing in disguise for someone who has experienced shoulder and elbow niggles in the past.
“I recommend it for all the younger blokes growing up not to do too much, so when you get an opportunity to take a break, you take that break,” he said.