By Andrew Hendriks
Canadian Baseball Network
With only a few short weeks remaining until the first scheduled game between Israel and Korea on March 6th, the World Baseball Classic (WBC) revealed rosters as part of a live TV special aired across the MLB Network on Wednesday.
Held once every four years, the WBC is a an international tournament sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation. Its main purpose is to act as a means of enhancing the games worldwide appeal by stacking the planet’s top talent against one and other in an effort to crown a global champion.
Understandably, the contests early-March schedule can create a difficult situation for its participants and their MLB clubs.
“It’s not my favorite thing, but it’s part of the big leagues now.” explained Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker in an interview with Prime Time Sports on Tuesday.
“We have to accommodate these guys. If they’re healthy, we can’t stand in their way and really don’t want to.”
Those headed to the contest are essentially pulled from the watchful eye of their parent clubs at a pivotal time in the season’s preliminary evaluation process.
Although the majority of the players set to be featured in this years running will have already been working out in the weeks leading up to their required WBC reporting dates, their departure from camp, coupled with an inherent risk of injury, can leave their coaches uneasy.
In all, Walker has five of his pupils slated to join WBC clubs in the upcoming weeks.
“It’s not ideal but we’ll deal with it.” he added. “It’s one of those things where you do have to ramp it up maybe a little bit earlier than the other guys, but not to an extreme. It’s more of a balancing act. I’ll be in communication with their pitching coaches during the WBC to make sure they’re not overused.”
A total of seven Blue Jays were named to WBC rosters on Wednesday.
Shane Dawson (Drayton Valley, Alta.) – Canada
Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) – Canada
Jose Bautista (Santo Domingo, DR) - Dominican Republic
Marcus Stroman (Medford, NY) – USA
J.A. Happ (Peru, IL) - USA
Marco Estrada (Sonora, Mex.) – Mexico
Roberto Osuna (Sinaloa, Mex.) – Mexico
Leonel Campos (Valera Ven.) - Venezuela
Jake Fisherman - (Schenectady, NY) - Israel
Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) - Italy
Led by long-time Blue Jays catcher Ernie Whitt, Team Canada will look to build off of its early exit in 2013.
Noticeably absent from the Canadian roster is Blue Jays catcher, Russell Martin who, as reported by Sportsnet's Shi Davidi, will miss this year’s action due to insurance complications stemming from an off-season knee surgery. Also missing is Michael Saunders, who hit an inflated .727 for the Canucks during the last tournament. After signing a one-year, $9MM deal with the Phillies earlier this year, Saunders has opted to stay in camp with his new team.
Andrew Albers (North Battlefield, Sask.)
John Axford (Simcoe, Ont.)
Kevin Chapman(Coral Springs, Fla.)
Shane Dawson (Drayton Valley, Alta.)
Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, BC)
Éric Gagné (Montreal, Que.)
Jim Henderson (Calgary, Alta.)
Chris Leroux (Montreal, Que.)
Adam Loewen (Surrey, BC)
Scott Mathieson (Vancouver, BC)
Dustin Molleken (Regina, Sask.)
Nick Pivetta (Victoria, BC)
Scott Richmond (Vancouver, BC)
Rowan Wick (Vancouver, BC)
Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC)
George Kottaras (Scarborough, Ont.)
Freddie Freeman (Fountain Valley, Calif.)
Jonathan Malo (Joliette, Que.)
Justin Morneau (New Westminster, BC)
Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.)
Pete Orr (Richmond Hill, Ont.)
Daniel Pinero (Toronto, Ont.)
Jamie Romak (London, Ont.)
Eric Wood (Oshawa, Ont.)
Michael Crouse (New Westminster, BC)
Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC)
Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.)
Rene Tosoni (Toronto, Ont.)
Canada’s first game will be against the defending champion Dominican Republic squad on March 9th.
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