World Baseball Classic and the Twins

Posted on December 30th, 2008 – 4:05 PM
By La Velle

Note: There doesn’t appear to be anything heating up on the acquisition front right now. Some people have scattered for the holidays. One agent of a player the Twins are interested in is out of the country. Twins GM Bill Smith has been attending family functions. And the Twins’ section of the StarTribune parking lot was empty when I pulled in today. It’s the holiday season, so it’s expected.

Meanwhile, we give you alternative programming….

Sometime next month, provisional rosters for the 2009 World Baseball Classic will be released. And Twins players will be sprinkled over a few of them.

Twins closer Joe Nathan spoke with WBC officials during the winter meetings earlier this month and said it’s a foregone conclusion that he will be named to the team.

“I told them that I enjoyed playing the last time and that it fits my schedule perfectly,” Nathan said Monday night.

Nathan already is playing catch and warming up his arm in advance of spring training and the WBC. It’s easy for relievers to get ready because they only have to build up to 30 pitches or so.

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, responding to an e-mail, sounded fired up to play for Canada again. Canada, if you’ve forgotten, beat Team USA 8-6 in 2006.

“I have officially committed to play for team Canada,” Morneau said. “I look forward to representing my country once again. There is a lot of pride involved in a tournament like this and we look forward to hopefully improving on our last performance.

I’ve heard from other people that Twins catcher Joe Mauer will play in the 2009 Classic (I haven’t confirmed that with him yet). He was asked to play in the 2006 event but declined. He had just completed his first year after knee surgery in 2004 ruined his season and didn’t want to push it.

Francisco Liriano is expected to pitch for the Dominican Republic. He made four starts for Escogido of the Dominican winter league, going 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA. Carlos Gomez, who might make the team, went .243/.351/.364 for Escogido, which failed to make the playoffs. 

A few Australians, including Twins prospect Luke Hughes, could make its national team.

But 7-1 right-handed pitcher Loek Van Mil isn’t expected to make the Netherlands roster. Van Mil strained an elbow ligament during the season and won’t be ready to get back on a mound until March.

Clubs have been asked to not interfere with players who want to take part in the WBC. It would be understandable if the Twins wanted someone like Liriano to save all his bullets for the Major League season. But the Twins have no problem with players who want to participate in the WBC.

“We have always been supportive of winter ball and it’s a pretty good honor for players to be selected to play on national teams.” Twins GM Bill Smith said. “Although it is inconvenient it is a good event and good for growing the game.”

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