WBC Pool D Preview
By Ben Noble
Team Canada is led by a slew of talented pitchers and a pair of former MVPs in Justin Morneau and Joey Votto, and should make a strong showing in this year’s World Baseball Classic. Newly inked Pirates backstop Russell Martin will play shortstop for the team, a position he has played a grand total of one professional game at, and that was in his first minor league season in 2002 at age 19. Twins minor leaguer Andrew Albers is on the team, as are former Twins Jesse Crain and Rene Tosoni.
The vast majority of the roster is made up of American-born players with Italian roots, a notable exception being Italian-born third baseman Alex Liddi, who has played 53 MLB games for Seattle over the past two seasons. Twins Drew Butera and Chris Colabello are on the team, as is the venerable Italian stallion, Nick Punto. Former Twin Dan Serafini is somehow still pitching professionally, and is on the roster as well.
Mexico boats a deep pitching staff led by Yovani Gallardo, but is thin in the field outside of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. However, the infield is manned by a group of solid if unspectacular players with MLB experience, and the outfield is filled with a number of foreign-league players that should give Mexico a well-rounded team when all’s said and done. Former Twin Dennys Reyes is on the squad.
Twins Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins will lead a roster that has plenty of good players, but certainly isn’t the sort of dream team most fans would construct. Mauer will likely see significant time at first with Eric Hosmer the lone first baseman on the roster and catcher Jonathan Lucroy making his first WBC appearance. Team USA has barely made it out of the first round in each of the previous incarnations of the WBC, so don’t be shocked it they fail to advance.
This pool is stronger than it may initially appear, and there’s a very real chance that the American team could get knocked out early, with our neighbors to the north and south advancing to the next round.
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