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Canada names first 23 players to World Baseball Classic Roster

TORONTO – As part of its National Teams Awards Banquet and Fundraiser in Toronto, Baseball Canada released the names of 23 players who will compete on Canada’s 30-man roster at the first-ever World Baseball Classic.

The list features 14 current Major League Baseball players including Jason Bay of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins, Erik Bedard of the Baltimore Orioles as well as veterans Paul Quantrill of the Florida Marlins and Matt Stairs of the Kansas City Royals. Click here for complete roster.

“There’s going to be a lot of heart on this team,” said Morneau. “And when you’re around guys who love the game it makes you want it that much more because you don’t want to let the guy down next to you.”

Although he’s played only a handful of games in the major leagues, it would be difficult to say anybody has more heart than Canadian second baseman Stubby Clapp. Clapp, who’s stepped up time and time again for Canada on the international stage said the World Baseball Classic will be the highlight of his baseball Career.

“From the moment I got that phone call, I haven’t talked about being on the team at all because it was just so difficult to believe, but now that’s it has been announced I finally feel like it has become reality,” said Clapp. “I think that a lot of people underestimate the level of play that we’re going to see at the classic. It’s absolutely unbelievable to be included with these guys.

Although seven spots on Canada’s roster still remain, Manager Ernie Whitt is excited about the make-up of his team.

“These are guys that love playing baseball,” said Whitt. “They treat the game with respect, they leave everything out on the field every single day and they play the game properly. It’s that Canadian approach to the game that makes these guys tremendous competitors.”

Also being named to Team Canada are some of the top young prospects in the game. Canada’s highest-ever draft pick, Adam Loewen who pitches in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization, the top catcher in the Dodgers’ system Russ Martin and Richmond Braves slugger Scott Thorman will reunite at the World Baseball Classic after having helped Canada to a second place finish at the 2005 CONCEBE Baseball Regional Olympic Qualifier in November.

Baseball Canada is currently in the process of securing player approvals in order to confirm the remaining 7 spots on the roster, which must be set prior to the start of the tournament.

Canada will play its first game against South Africa on March 7 in Scottsdale, Arizona. They will then play the United States on Wednesday, March 8th at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona before closing out the first round against Mexico on Thursday, March 9th, also at Chase Field.

The World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic, a 16-team tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), will feature many of the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories for the first time ever in March 2006.

The 16 teams invited to participate in the event have been divided into four pools of four teams for the first round of play. The four Round 1 pools will be played at venues in Japan (Tokyo Dome – Tokyo), Puerto Rico (Hiram Bithorn Stadium – San Juan) and the United States (Chase Field – Phoenix, Arizona; Scottsdale Stadium – Scottsdale, Arizona; Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex – Orlando, Florida).

Round 2 will feature two pools of four teams each and will be played in Puerto Rico (Hiram Bithorn Stadium) and the United States (Angel Stadium – Anaheim, California). The Semi-finals and final game will be played at PETCO Park in San Diego, California.

The WBC will feature a bracket-style format with the 16 teams competing in four groups: Pool A - China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea; Pool B - Canada, Mexico, South Africa, United States; Pool C – Cuba*, Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico; Pool D - Australia, Dominican Republic, Italy, Venezuela.

* participation pending