USA Baseball announced its full roster for the first-stage Olympic qualifying tournament, scheduled for Nov. 15-19 in Phoenix, and Arizona Fall League products dominate the team.
The AFL season wraps up early in deference to the event, and USA
Baseball had several top officials, such as general manager of
professional teams Bob Watson and national teams director Eric
Campbell, in the AFL to scout. USA Baseball also relishes having alumni
of its amateur programs on its professional rosters, so AFL players
such as Royals outfielder Billy Butler, Braves catcher Jarrod
Saltalamacchia and Angels righthander Jered Weaver were among the
prominent alumni on the roster. The team features 19 players who were
in the AFL, such as Angels middle infielders Howie Kendrick and Brandon
Wood, two of the top hitters in the minor leagues.
“It’s definitely a huge honor to represent the United States against
the best competition in the world,” Saltalamacchia said. “It’s not a
showcase. It’s about bringing your best day in and day out on the
international stage and hopefully we’ll come home a winner–the goal is
to win, not just go out there and go through the motions.”
The six-team event will also include teams from Canada, Guatemala,
Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama. The Canadian roster includes several AFL
players as well, such as Orioles lefthander Adam Loewen, Phillies
righthander Scott Mathieson and Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
The top four teams qualify for the Olympic qualifying tournament for
the Western Hemisphere next year in Cuba. The top two teams in that
tournament will qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, though the
new qualifying structure also is expected to include a last-chance
qualification event in 2007 for the eighth and final spot.
Those Olympics are the last ones where baseball is scheduled, as the
International Olympic Committee pushed baseball and softball off the
docket. However, Major League Baseball has made moves to get another
vote at being put back on the Olympic program for the 2012 Games in
London. The IOC vote last summer was 54-50 to oust baseball, and a
group of IOC voting members met with International Baseball Federations
officials and MLB president Bob DuPuy in Switzerland in October to
discuss baseball getting another shot.
“We presented the issues,” DuPuy told MLB.com. “Baseball is the
national sport in 14 different countries, and everyone wants a chance
to continue to participate in the Olympics. I feel pretty good about
getting back in.”
Contributing: Chris Kline.
TEAM USA ROSTER
Pitchers: Stephen Andrade (Blue Jays); Jonah Bayliss
(Royals); Dave Haehnel (Orioles); Chris Lambert (Cardinals); Jim Miller
(Rockies); Bill Murphy (Diamondbacks); Clint Nageotte (Mariners); Brian
Sanches (Phillies); Matt Smith (Yankees); Nick Ungs (Marlins); Jered
Weaver (Angels); Steven White (Yankees).
Catchers: Jeff Mathis (Angels); Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Braves).
Infielders: Travis Hanson (Cardinals); Brendan Harris
(Nationals); Howie Kendrick (Angels); Bryan LaHair (Mariners); Ryan
Shealy (Rockies); Brandon Wood (Angels).
Outfielders: Billy Butler (Royals); Lastings Milledge (Mets); Brad Snyder (Indians); Shane Victorino (Phillies).
TEAM CANADA ROSTER
Pitchers: Chris Begg (Giants); T.J. Burton (Indians); Eric
Cyr (Angels); Steve Greene (Tigers); Mike Kusiewicz; Jonathan Lockwood
(Mariners); Adam Loewen (Orioles); Scott Mathieson (Phillies); Chris
Mears (Cardinals); Mike Meyers (Brewers); Aaron Myette.
Catchers: Russell Martin (Dodgers); Maxim St. Pierre (Tigers).
Infielders: Todd Betts; Stubby Clapp; Lee Delfino; Kevin Nicholson; Matt Rogelstad (Mariners); Scott Thorman (Braves); Joey Votto (Reds).
Outfielders: Sebastien Boucher (Mariners); Ryan Radmanovich; Ben Van Iderstine (Brewers); Jeremy Ware.