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Netherlands Preview

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Head Coach: Pat Murphy (Arizona State).

Key Players: Murphy coached the Dutch to the European championship and an Olympic berth in 1988 behind SS Robert Eenhoorn and OF Rikkert Faneyte. The former big leaguers helped lure Murphy back and form the backbone of the team. LHP Jurrian Lobbezoo is an important part of the pitching staff.

How Qualified: Beat Italy to win the 1999 European championship last August.

Olympic History: Did not qualify in 1984 or ’92. Went 1-2 in the round robin in 1988. Went 2-5 in the round robin in 1996.

Players With U.S. Ties: Along with Eenhoorn and Faneyte, 2B Ralph Milliard (Padres) and former Yankees OF Hensley Meulens have big league experience. LHP Radhames Dykhoff (Mets), 3B E.J. t’Hoen (Angels) and ace RHP Rob Cordemans also have extensive professional experience in the United States.

Notes: The Netherlands’ team strikes a balance between native Dutch players and natives of the Netherlands Antilles. Murphy was unable to land potentially his biggest bat, 1B Randall Simon (Yankees). The nation’s two most famous baseball products–retired righthander Bert Blyleven and Braves outfielder Andruw Jones–obviously won’t play.

Outlook: Murphy said his club and European rival Italy are closely matched in talent and experience. Give the Dutch the edge, though, because of coaching. The Netherlands won’t reach the medal round, but don’t be surprised if Murphy throws a scare into one of the tournament’s favorites.

Roster

Pitchers: Patrick Beljaards, Ken Brauckmiller, Rob Cordemans, Patrick De Lange, Radhames Dykhoff (Mets), Eelco Jansen, Ferenc Joneejan, Jurriaan Lobbezoo, Erik Remmerswaal, Orlando Strewart.

Catchers: Johnny Balentina, Mike Crouwel (Pirates), Chairon Isenia (Devil Rays).

Infielders: Sharnol Adriana (Pirates), Robert Eenhoorn, E.J. t'Hoen (Angels), Percy Isenia, Reily Legito, Ralph Milliard (Padres).

Outfielders: Jeffrey Cranston, Rikkert Faneyte (Pirates), Remy Maduro (Pirates), Hensley Meulens, Dirk Van t'Klooster.

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