December 1, 2008 - Former RiverHawk Brad Dutton, traded last month from Rockford to Gary of the Northern League, is back in his native Australia. He will once again represent his home state of Queensland in the Claxton Shield, the national baseball tournament.
The two-month event gets underway on Tuesday, when the Queensland Rams host the Perth (West Australia) Heat in the opener of the showcase round. Dutton was the starting shortstop for the Rams last winter and represented Australia in an Olympic qualifer in March at Taiwan. The Aussies did not qualify for the Beijing Games, the final Olympic baseball tournament until at least 2016.
Outfielder Rich Austin's 2009 option was picked up by the Calgary Vipers of the independent Golden League. Austin hasn't played for a U.S.-based team in more than a year. He spent last winter in a league in Mexico and the bulk of 2008 with Bologna of Series A, the Italian pro league. He joined the Vipers after his Italian team was eliminated from the postseason.
Former major-league basestealing wiz Tim Raines is the new manager of the Newark Bears in the independent Atlantic League. His wife is the sister of former RiverHawk Tanner Watson. The former Chicago Cubs farmhand finished the season with Ottawa of the independent Can-Am League.