*Jamie Romak (London, Ont.) Team Canada MVP when Canada won its first bronze medal at the 2009 World Cup./Baseball Canada photo. Letters of Intent
By Adam Morrissette
It's always a commitment to play for Baseball Canada. This time moreso than others.
Canada is off to the 2011 IBAF World Cup in Panama City, Panama Oct. 2-15 and Pan Am Games in Guadalajara/Lagos de Mareno, Mex. Oct. 19-26.
In 2009, Canada won its first ever bronze medal at the IBAF World Cup in Italy and this will be the first time since 1999 that Canada has participated in the Pan Am Games. The event in 1999 was held in Winnipeg where the Canadian team thrilled the hometown fans with a bronze medal upsetting Team USA on Andy Stewart's (Brockville, Ont.) homer and Stubby Clapp's (Windsor, Ont.) bloop single.
“Given our recent success internationally, it is always exciting to see how we stack up against the world’s best,” said Baseball Canada president, Ray Carter. “I know that our players, coaches and staff will perform in a manner that will make Baseball Canada and all Canadians proud.”
The roster, consisting of 24 players not on MLB 40-man rosters, will feature 11 players (Cole Armstrong, Shawn Bowman, Nick Bucci, Emerson Frostad, Jimmy Henderson, Mike Johnson, Chris Kissock, Jonathan Malo, Chris Robinson, Jamie Romak and Jimmy Van Ostrand) who helped Canada qualify for the World Cup and Pan Am Games last October in Puerto Rico.
Nine players (Andrew Albers, Chris Bisson, Michael Crouse, Mark Hardy, Jay Johnson, Brock Kjeldgaard, Marcus Knecht, Kyle Lotzkar and Skyler Stromsmoe) will be making their debut with the senior national team.
“With the amount of talented players in Canada increasing each year it was a difficult task to select the roster,” said Director of National Teams, Greg Hamilton.
Ernie Whitt will once again return as the clubs Manager, making this the 10th time he has filled the role with the Senior National Team. The former Toronto Blue Jays catcher, who had a 15-year career in the majors, first managed the Canadian National Team in 1999 at the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg and led them to bronze. Whitt was also at the helm for the 2004 Athens Olympics, both the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics and the 2009 World Cup where Canada claimed bronze.
“I am looking forward to once again representing Canada on a world stage,” said Whitt. “We have a mix of veteran National Team players and talented newcomers which should provide an exciting and competitive group on the field.”
Long-time National Team player Clapp is the newest addition to the coaching staff after making his managing debut with the Tri-City ValleyCats in the New York Penn League this season.
The team will first convene in Cary, North Carolina on September 26th where there will play a three-game exhibition series against Team USA before travelling to Panama on Sept. 30. The 16-country IBAF World Cup will begin on Oct. 2 with Canada seeing their first action at 2pm CT that day against Puerto Rico. In addition to Puerto Rico, Canada will face Japan, Greece, Chinese Taipei, Netherlands and USA in the preliminary round where the top four seeds in each pool will advance to the second round. After the second round, medal and placement games will be played on October 15.
The Pan Am Games will feature an eight-team tournament where countries will be split into two pools of four. The top two finishers in each pool will advance to the semi-finals while lower seeds will play placement games. Like the World Cup, Canada will open the Pan Am Games with a round-robin game against Puerto Rico.