Head Coach: Jon Deeble.
Key Players: Former Brewers all-star Dave Nilsson played in Japan this year so he would be available for the Olympics, though he was released in August after struggling with back pain and a .180 average with Chunichi. The team will have six players with major league experience.
How Qualified: As host nation, Australia received an automatic bid representing Oceania.
Olympic History: Did not qualify in 1984 or 1992. Went 1-2 in the round robin in 1988. Went 2-5 in the round robin in 1996.
Players With U.S. Ties: Most of the team plays in the United States, highlighted by Mariners OF Chris Snelling, Mariners LHP Craig Anderson and Expos RHP Shayne Bennett. Just about every significant Australian player in the United States is on this team, except for a few like Braves LHP Damian Moss, Dodgers RHP Luke Prokopec and Orioles RHP John Stephens (injured).
Notes: Australia is excited about baseball after the home team upset Cuba to win the Intercontinental Cup in Sydney in November. Bennett said it was the most important moment in Australian baseball history. Some of that momentum was lost when head coach Mike Young resigned over a dispute about the distribution of bonus money after the tournament. Deeble, an assistant under Young, stepped in to take over the team.
Outlook: Australia will have the home fans on its side, and the roster looks more formidable than some might have expected. The Aussies will battle for the fourth spot in the medal round, and it could come down to their game against Team USA, the last contest of the round robin.
Pitchers: Craig Anderson (Mariners), Grant Balfour (Twins), Tom Becker (Tigers), Shayne Bennett (Expos), Mark Ettles, Mark Hutton (Astros), Adrian Meagher, Mike Nakamura (Twins), Brad Thomas (Twins), David White.
Catchers: Michael Moyle, Dave Nilsson (Yankees), Gary White.
Infielders: Mathew Buckley, Adam Burton, Clayton Byrne, Paul Gonzalez, Ronny Johnson, Rodney Van Buizen (Dodgers), Glenn Williams (Blue Jays).
Outfielders: Grant McDonald, Glenn Reeves, Brett Roneberg (Marlins), Chris Snelling (Mariners).
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