Archive for August, 2005

Safeco Field wants to part of history

There are weeks before official announcement on sites for World Baseball Classic next spring, and Seattle’s Safeco Field remains one of five candidates to host a late-round game.

“Seattle is certainly in the running, it has a fair shot.” Gene Orza, the Major League Baseball Players Association chief operating officer said. “The weather might not be optimal, but we know (CEO) Howard (Lincoln) and (COO) Chuck (Armstrong) are big supporters of international baseball.”

A joint committee of MLB and MLBPA officials will award the bids. The group has not determined if the March 18 semifinals and March 20 finals will take place at the same place. The Mariners’ odds would improve if that were not the case, especially since Seattle COO Chuck Armstrong said the team’s best chance to host would be the semifinals.

Other potential hosts include the Angels, Astros, Dodgers, and Padres.

Mariners Notebook: Freddy faces old, new

Gonzalez would play for Mexico, Cantu might too.

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Adrian Gonzalez, the First baseman of Texas Ranger plans to play for the Mexican team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic next March; Tampa Bay Devil Rays infielder Jorge Cantu might also join him too.

Although nothing is official yet, Gonzalez expresses his willing to play for Mexican Team, the only issue could be his citizenship. Although his parents were from Mexico, Gonzalez was born in San Diego and raised on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. He has dual citizenship and will be allowed to pick which team (either USA or Mexico) he would like to represent.

2006 WBC is scheduled to begin on March, a few weeks after the start of Spring Training, but Gonzalez does not see it as a problem. He said, “Spring Training is about playing, and we will be playing, so I don’t think it will affect us that way. Maybe it could have an effect on managers and general managers, because all the players won’t be together in the clubhouse and they might not have enough time to see everybody.”

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As for Jorge Cantu, he also expects to be asked to participate with the Mexican team. He said he plans for the offer to come in the off season.

Besides, a representative of Mexico’s leading sports confederation met with Cantu earlier this month. Cantu said he plans to meet with Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada in November. “We got together about baseball,” Cantu said. “We are going to try getting some propaganda of baseball in Mexico.”

Cantu mention that baseball is not very popular in Mexico, and although he was able to watch baseball on TV when grew up near the border, many people are still prefer soccer than baseball. He hopes to do something in World baseball Classic to do a lot for baseball in Mexico.

Among those players expected to play for Mexico are Esteban Loaiza (Starting Pitcher, Washington Nationals), Oliver Perez (Starting Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates), Rodrigo Lopez (Starting Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles), Elmer Dessens (Relief Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers), Luis Ayala (Relief Pitcher, Washington Nationals), Erubiel Durazo (Designated Hitter, Oakland Athletics) and Miguel Ojeda (Catcher, Seattle Mariners). Outfielder Karim Garcia, who is currently playing in Japan, will also be asked to join the Mexican Team.

Notes: Loe slated for Friday

Notes: Offense not a problem for Rays

MLB close on WBC venues, Japan

Looks like WBC has making progress during pass few days, Venus is almost done, and Japan might change their previous mind and join WBC 2006.

On Monday and Tuesday in New York, officials from MLB and MLBPA have had extensive talks with NPB owners and representatives of their players’ association. To discuss about the Japanese appearing in next year’s inaugural World Baseball Classic.

On Wednesday, the international committee and the executive council heard a report stating that MLB International was close to finalizing venues for the event and would probably have a complete list by the middle of September. They were also told that the likelihood of Japan’s participation is promising.

Owners from NPB that control the two Japan leagues have agreed to participate, but the players have had reservations, voting last month to avoid the tournament. Their main concerns are the time of year the tournament is being played and having more representation in the decision-making process when the WBC is played again in 2009.

Japan is one of 16 nations invited to appear in the WBC, which is scheduled to take place next March 3-20. The dates fall during Spring Training in both Japan and the U.S. The first round is slated to be played in three different locales, with rounds set to be played in Japan and Puerto Rico and at Minor League or Spring Training facilities in Florida and Arizona.

First-round games for the Asian Pool, tentatively scheduled for the Tokyo Dome, are slated to begin on March 3. MLB has been listening to bids to host the semifinals and finals from Major League franchises in Southern California, Arizona and Texas.

Another Baseball Giant, Cuba also has yet to accept its invitation, and MLB International officials are expected to meet with representatives from the country next week.

MLB close on WBC venues, Japan

San Diego pursue to host WBC

Although there is no decision on where it will be the host of semifinal and final games of inaugural World Baseball Classic, San Diego hope it will be their another opportunity.

“San Diego, in my opinion, should be one of the most logical sites,” Commissioner Bud Selig said. “Houston wants it. I’m sure they want it in L.A. Arizona wants it. . . . (But) San Diego is very, very attractive.” “Absolutely, it’s very much a positive. No one has been as aggressive as Sandy (Padres’ CEO Sandy Alderson) and John (Owner John Moores). There’s no question about that.”

Selig is still awaiting a formal recommendation from MLB Vice President Paul Archey before selecting the stage for the 16-nation tournament’s semifinals and final, scheduled for March 18 and 20. But he confirmed that the diplomatic initiatives of Alderson and Padres owner John Moores on behalf of the game’s globalization could weigh heavily in Petco Park’s favor.

Based on Archey, there are three criteria needed to be host on WBC, Major league ballpark, reduce weather risk and logistically and operationally most efficient. For San Diego’s PECTO Park, its strongest selling points would include its nice weather, its new ballpark, its proximity to an international border and potential second-round sites, and the palpable enthusiasm of Padres management.

“We think it’s a significant event,” said Jeff Overton, Padres’ executive vice president for communications. “Above and beyond the bid document, this is something we care about. It’s about supporting baseball internationally.” “I think John (Moores) believes in the game. I think he really feels strongly about baseball as an entity and a sport. I think the continued development is a real passion for him.”

Unlike some major league owners have reservations about the players’ injury risks in the WBC; Padres view the first World Baseball Classic as a historic opportunity.

Only issue might influence the chance of Padres is scheduling conflict with the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. First-and second-round games are scheduled for Cox Arena on March 16 and 18. The Padres maintain that the overlap is easily overcome, there are more than 2,000 hotel rooms can be made available for baseball visitors.

Archey raised the conflict as a concern but also volunteered that it might be possible to reschedule the baseball semifinals by a day in order to avoid direct competition between NCAA and WBC.

“San Diego is very attractive on a lot of fronts,” Archey said, “but we’ve got to make sure we do our due diligence.” Archey also mentioned eight major league cities have submitted bids to hold at least part of the three-week tournament. The Padres are bidding only on the semifinals and final.

“We feel good about the proposal we made to them,” Alderson said. “I feel great about the ability of San Diego, as well as the Padres, to host the event. On the other hand, there may be other very good alternatives.”

World baseball could be on its way here

USA or Canada? Crain’s call

With United States and Canada dual Citizenship, Minnesota Twins reliever Jesse Crain could face a tough decision before next spring.

Team Canada has received permission to make Crain join its team in World Baseball Classic 2006. But question is: Crain has played on Team USA with Twins catcher Joe Mauer in 2003. And if he decides to play for Canada, he would forfeit his Team USA eligibility in the future.

Crain’s parents are U.S. citizens; he was born while they were on a business trip to Toronto, lived in Canada for only three months.

Canada team has a potential starting rotation of Oakland Athletics Rich Harden, Colorado Rockies Jeff Francis and Baltimore Orioles Erik Bedard. Crain could join a bullpen with Chicago Cubs closer Ryan Dempster and Atlanta Braves closer Chris Reitsma.

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, of British Columbia, Canada, understands it’s a tough choice for Crain and don’t want to put any pressure. “It’s up to him, if he plays for us, he’s got to want to play for us.” Morneau said.

Crain’s decision: U.S. or Canada

No deal for Moyer, Doc delayed

Good or Bad for Cactus League?

People around the world are looking forward to the inaugural World Baseball Classic next spring, but for Cactus League and Grapefruit League, they have mixed emotion.

Every spring, Cactus League is important to the East Valley’s economy, filling not only seats at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa and Tempe Diablo Stadium but also hotel rooms, restaurants and golf courses.

The big question is whether the WBC will cut or boost Cactus League attendance. Some thought it as more opportunity than obstruction, some are not for sure.

Based on current information, Pool B, include United States, Canada, Mexico and South Africa, could play in the Arizona on March 8 through 11.

Scheduling would be a key factor to minimize competition between Cactus League games and WBC games. They could try adjusting the game time and let fans could come to two games in one day, attending an afternoon Cactus League game and a WBC night game.

There are two theories among baseball officials on how the World Baseball Classic will affect the Cactus League and Florida’s Grapefruit League.

Some fear fans won’t be willing to travel to the Valley if star players aren’t playing with their normal teams.

Like Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, Alfonso Soriano of Texas Rangers, who would likely play for the Dominican Republic, or Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who might pitch for Venezuela’s national team. Both Dominican Republic and Venezuela belong to Pool D and play in Florida at first round.

Good news is fans might be able to see players who normally train in Florida, like New York Yankees star third baseman Alex Rodriguez or former Diamondbacks ace, Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.

Others believe the tournament will increase overall interest in baseball, it may help that Arizona is a popular destination for visitors from Canada and Mexico.

The real affect will be known during next March.

1st World Baseball Classic raises questions in E. Valley

World Classic worries officials

Barry Armitage play for South Africa

Choose Baseball over cricket and rugby, two most frequently played sports in South Africa; Barry Armitage could become one of the major factor for South Africa in World Baseball Classic next spring.

Armitage, Kansas City AA relief pitcher, due to his uncle and stepfather, Richard Pieterse, a fast pitch softball pitcher, learn to play baseball at 5, and did not change his mind when he go to high school.

Royals general manager Allard Baird and scout Luis Silverio found him in April 2000, took less than a day.

Armitage said. “They were traveling through South Africa going to the major cities to see what kind of players we had. I went down and tried out for them, and I met up with them later that day. We had a sit-down, kind of a question-answer-type thing, so they could see what kind of person I was. I signed the contract later that day.”

Like other foreign players, Armitage need to adjust not only baseball, but life.
“The first couple months when I came over, they were very difficult,” Armitage said. “I had left (South Africa) a few times, but I was always with people I know. When I first came over, the only person I knew was the rehab guy. I knew nobody else. For me the big adjustment wasn’t playing, it was adjusting to having to meet new people every day and realizing this is my life now.”

Armitage, 26, has represented South Africa in international games since 1997, though he missed the 2000 Olympics with an injury. He’ll pitch in next spring’s World Baseball Classic for South Africa in Pool B, which includes United States, Canada and Mexico.

Right now South Africa has produced several minor leaguers, but none have reached the majors. Armitage try to become the first one.

“When I signed in 2000, I didn’t even know it was possible to come over here and play baseball,” Armitage said. “With me being over here, and now in Double-A, improving my career, it shows a lot of youngsters back home that they can do it, too.”

And baseball in South Africa will become more popular when any of its natives reach the Major League.

Armitage shuns cricket, rugby for baseball

USA Basebal has GM

Although World Baseball Classic is still 7 months away, USA Baseball did not forget the most important event in baseball, and select ex-Yankee GM Bob Watson as their GM.

USA Baseball formally named Bob Watson as their general manager. He will have a hand in selecting players, managers and coaches for the U.S. teams that will compete next spring in the World Baseball Classic, 2005 International Baseball Federation (IBAF) World Cup, and all Olympic-related baseball events leading up to and including the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

Watson will remain Major League Baseball’s vice president of on-field operations.

59-year-old Watson became the first African-American to be hired as a Major League general manager when he took over the Astros in 1993. He also held the same position for the Yankees from 1995-97. He also was an advisor in 2003, but that team is beaten by Mexico at the Athens Olympics Qualifying Event at Panama City, Panama.

“We want to win the World Baseball Classic, capture the gold medal again in 2008 and restore baseball to the Olympics in 2016 and beyond,” said Watson.

P.S. 1. Dean Taylor, now the assistant general manager in Cincinnati, was the general manager of that 2003 team. The Nationals’ Frank Robinson was the manager; Dave Stewart, now a player agent, was the pitching coach; and Thad Bosley was the hitting coach.

P.S. 2. Players outside the 40-man rosters of each Major League team are eligible for the World Cup; players outside the 25-man rosters are eligible for the Olympic teams; and nine Major Leaguers from each team — 270 in all — will be allowed to play for all 16 nations invited to the World Baseball Classic, the first time big leaguers are eligible for international competition.

Watson named GM of USA Basebal

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