USA Baseball Announces World Baseball Classic Roster

The inaugural World Baseball Classic still seems like an abstract idea.

It got a lot more real Tuesday.

USA Baseball announced its 30-man roster with a star-studded lineup and pitching rotation, with future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens and Yankees stars Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez highlighting the roster.

Team USA doesn’t have to submit a final roster until March 2, so Bob Watson, the team’s general manager, said Team USA’s roster could still shift between now and then. “Things do happen along the way,” Watson said.

Clemens is the first player who could give way; the 43-year-old righthander said he is committed to the Classic and nothing beyond (yet), but he also admitted his body has been slow to round into shape, particularly his legs. Clemens declined to answer questions about his free agency, other than to say he has met with several clubs, but said he’s not 100 percent sure of anything beyond trying to be ready for the Classic.

Joining Clemens in Team USA’s four-man rotation will be a trio of young pitchers’”Padres righty Jake Peavy, 24; Marlins lefthander Dontrelle Willis; 24; and Indians lefthander C.C. Sabathia, 25. They have combined for 161 career victories, less than half Clemens’ career total of 341.

Team USA manager Buck Martinez said Peavy (who will pitch the opener) and Willis will start the first two games for the Americans in Arizona when the tournament begins March 7 with a game against Mexico. Canada, Mexico and South Africa also are in Team USA’s pool. He also said pitching coach Marcel Lachemann has worked out the schedule and bullpen to keep the rotation to four pitchers.

Mets lefthander Billy Wagner and 2005 saves leader Chad Cordero lead a stellar bullpen that includes closers such as Todd Jones (Tigers), Huston Street (Athletics), Joe Nathan (Twins) and Brad Lidge (Astros), as well as lefthander Brian Fuentes (Rockies) and setup men Scot Shields (Angels), Dan Wheeler (Astros) and Mike Timlin (Red Sox).

The American infield also is loaded with all-stars, led by Jeter and Rodriguez on the left side. Chipper Jones (Braves) and Mike Young (Rangers) will challenge for playing time, and Martinez said Young was in the mix at second base with lefthanded-hitting Chase Utley (Phillies). Derrek Lee (Cubs) and Mark Teixeira (Rangers) are at first base. Martinez also indicated that Rodriguez could see some time at shortstop, but only in a late-inning situation.

The U.S. outfield was heavy on center fielders’”Johnny Damon (Yankees), Ken Griffey (Reds), Vernon Wells (Blue Jays) and Randy Winn (Giants)’”with a pair of young corners in Jeff Francoeur (Braves) and Matt Holliday (Rockies). The tournament will have the DH, and Martinez said he had talked to Damon about sliding over to left field. Watson added that Francoeur and Holliday were added specifically for their righthanded power against lefthanded pitchers.

Jason Varitek (Red Sox) figures to be the starter at catcher, with former Expos farmhands Michael Barrett (Cubs) and Brian Schneider (Nationals) rounding out the trio. Varitek is one of nine players on the 30-man roster who have Team USA experience either as amateurs or as professionals, a list that includes Rodriguez (who played on the junior team), Cordero and Street (teammates in 2002 on the college national team) and Wheeler (a member of the 1999 Pan American Games pro roster).

Clemens, Peavy and Wagner were on the conference call, and all three were fired up to get on the field and wear the American uniform.

“I can tell you this, and I believe I speak for Roger and Billy,” Peavy said, “but when we step on that field with USA on our chest, it’s gonna be on.”

USA ROSTER

Player, Pos. Team USA Experience Last Drafted
Rogers Clemens, rhp Free Agent   Red Sox, 1983, 1st round (19th overall)
Jake Peavy, rhp Padres   Padres, 1999, 15th round
C.C. Sabathia, lhp Indians   Indians, 1998, 1st round (20th overall)
Dontrelle Willis, rhp Marlins   Cubs, 2000, 8th round
Chad Cordero, rhp Nationals College National Team, 2002 Expos, 2003, 1st round (20th overall)
Brian Fuentes, rhp Rockies   Mariners, 1995, 25th round
Todd Jones, rhp Tigers   Astros, 1989, 1st round (27th overall)
Brad Lidge, rhp Astros   Astros, 1998, 1st round (17th overall)
Joe Nathan, rhp Twins   Giants, 1995, 6th round
Scot Shields, rhp Angels   Angels, 1997, 38th round
Huston Street, rhp Athletics College National Team, 2002, 2003 Athletics, 2004, supplemental 1st round
Mike Timlin, rhp Red Sox   Blue Jays, 1987, 5th round
Billy Wagner, rhp Mets   Astros, 1993, 1st round (12th overall)
Dan Wheeler, rhp Astros Professional Team, 1999 Devil Rays, 1996, 34th round
Michael Barrett, c Cubs Junior National Team, 1994 Expos, 1995, 1st round (28th overall)
Brian Schneider, c Nationals   Expos, 1995, 5th round
Jason Varitek, c Red Sox Olympic Team, 1992 Mariners, 1994, 1st round (14th overall)
Derrek Lee, 1b Cubs   Padres, 1993, 1st round (14th overall)
Mark Teixeira, 1b Rangers College National Team, 2000 Rangers, 2001, 1st round (5th overall)
Chase Utley, 2b Phillies   Phillies, 2000, 1st round (15th overall)
Michael Young, 2b/ss Rangers   Blue Jays, 1997, 5th round
Derek Jeter, ss Yankees   Yankees, 1992, 1st round (6th overall)
Chipper Jones, 3b Braves   Braves, 1990, 1st round (1st overall)
Alex Rodriguez, 3b/ss Yankees Junior National Team, 1992 Mariners, 1993, 1st round (1st overall)
Johnny Damon, of Yankees   Royals, 1992, supplemental 1st round
Jeff Francoeur, of Braves Junior National Team, 2001 Braves, 2002, 1st round (23rd overall)
Ken Griffey, of Reds   Mariners, 1987, 1st round (1st overall)
Matt Holliday, of Rockies Professional Team, 2003 Rockies, 1998, 7th round
Vernon Wells, of Blue Jays   Blue Jays, 1997, 1st round (5th overall)
Randy Winn, of Giants   Marlins, 1995, 3rd round

International | #2006 #International Affairs #World Baseball Classic

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