Grady Sizemore ... ready for Team USA.
Indians fans may get to see some of their favorites on the international stage next month during the World Baseball Classic. Seven players from the Indians' major league roster, including All-Star center fielder Grady Sizemore, are on provisional rosters. Six others from the Cleveland farm system along with several ex-Indians and former Tribe farmhands may get a chance to play for various nations.
Sizemore, new Indians third baseman Mark DeRosa and left-hander Cliff Lee were listed on the United States roster. Lee asked to not be included and will concentrate all his efforts on getting ready for the season at the Indians' new training-camp home in Goodyear, Ariz.
Sizemore likely will be one American manager Davey Johnson's starting outfielders. DeRosa has said he would like to play for Team USA, but will abide by the Indians' wishes. If Tribe management gives its OK, as it did with Sizemore, the versatile DeRosa would like to get a chance to make the U.S. roster.
"It's their call, which is fine by me," DeRosa said shortly after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs for three minor-league pitchers a few weeks ago.
Rafael Betancourt is on Venezuela’s provisional roster; Fausto Carmona, Jhonny Peralta and Rafael Perez with the Dominican Republic; Masa Kobyashi with Japan and Shin-Soo Choo with Korea.
Choo is very excited about joining Korea, which won the baseball gold medal in the Olympics last year. "I have not worn my country's flag on my chest since I was in high school and many of the players on the team are my former teammates," Choo said. "If the Indians allow me to play, I am going. But if they say, no, then that is OK. They pay me as a professional player and I understand that."
Carmona is expected to ask to be left off as he wants to make sure he's in top shape entering the season. A year ago, the right-hander missed considerable time with a hip injury.
The Indians and numerous other clubs are particularly wary of having pitchers leave their camp. The reasoning is that they are more likely to incur an injury should they get into a pressure-packed situation in competitive play and go full-out when they are not ready to do so.
Tribe minor-leaguers on provisional rosters include OF Cirilo Cumberbatch, C Damaso Espino and RHP Paolo Espino with Panama; RHP Chen-Chang Lee and RHP Sung-Wei Tseng with Chinese Taipei and OF Nick Weglarz with Canada.
Also listed on early WBC rosters were ex-Indians catcher Sal Fasano (Italy), RHP David Cortes, OF Karim Garcia and LHP Ricardo Rincon (Mexico); RHP Fernando Cabrera, INF Alex Cora, INF Andy Gonzalez and INF Ramon Vasquez, (Puerto Rico); RHP Jeremy Guthrie and OF Ryan Ludwick (USA); RHP Jorge Julio, RHP Juan Rincon and SS Omar Vizquel (Venezuela).
Other possible participants include former Tribe farmhands RHP T.J. Burton and RHP Steve Green (Canada), OF Willy Taveras (Dominican Republic), LHP Chris Cooper (Italy), SS Maicer Izturis, C Max Ramirez and INF Marco Scutaro (Venezuela).
2009 World Baseball Classic Teams
Japan is the defending champion, having defeated Cuba in the 2006 title game, 10-6.
Players under contract to the Indians at the time who participated were second baseman Ronnie Belliard with the Dominican Republic, right-hander Fernando Cabrera with Puerto Rico and catcher Victor Martinez and right-hander Rafael Betancourt with Venezuela.
Both Cabrera and Betancourt struggled with the Indians and went on the disabled list early in the 2006 season. Neither openly admitted it was the result of not getting their proper conditioning -- but many in the Indians organization still have their doubts.
Also in the 2006 games was right-hander Espino with Panama. The Indians liked what they saw from the teen-ager and drafted him out of high school later that year.