Ernie Whitt, manager of the Canadian Olympic baseball team, will also manage Canada in the World Baseball Classic next spring.
The Toronto Blue Jays bench coach, just lead Canada advanced to 2008 Beijing Olympics Qualify Game next August. Some of the players from the Olympic team might get a chance to play in the Classic too, like infielder Stubby Clapp, outfielder Ryan Radmanovich, pitchers Adam Loewen and Scott Mathieson.
The only difference between Olympic team and World Baseball Classic team is Major League players. Olympic team does not allow major-league players, but the Classic does.
“Any conversations that we’ve had with players, they’ve all been very positive where they do want to go and play and compete,” Whitt said. “It’s a lot of organizing, especially with the pitching and hopefully getting them ready so that they are ready to compete in early spring.
“We’re going to have to treat these games basically as spring training games where our starters will limit to a pitch count or innings. So our starting pitchers will probably be piggybacked with another starting pitcher to try to get us to the seventh inning and then our bullpen guys will take over after that.”
“Usually, a week in spring training and they’re okay,” Whitt said. “It’s just a timing thing. The first week is conditioning the hands. In most cases, these guys that come to spring training now, they’re all in pretty good shape; they’ve been swinging the bats. Our biggest concern will be our pitching.”
Witt expects to carry 13 or 14 pitchers for the WBC and “hopefully we don’t play extra innings.”
The 16-team tournament will be played from March 3 to 20; Canada with Mexico, South Africa, and USA will play the first round at Chase Field and Scottsdale Stadium.