The rosters for the World Baseball Classic were officially released yesterday, and six Toronto Blue Jays players will represent their respective countries.
Roberto Osuna and Marco Estrada will suit up for Team Mexico in March. Both pitchers had fantastic 2016 campaigns for the Blue Jays, and it is no surprise that they were offered to play for Mexico. The two pitchers will play in a designated pitcher’s pool and can be subbed in and out of games throughout the tournament. After allowing four runs on seven hits over three innings in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, expect Estrada to both play more innings, and allow less runs. As for Osuna, expect the now 22-year-old to pick up where he left off this past October.
Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ will dawn the red, white and blue, and represent the United States. Stroman will serve as a regular starter, while Happ will be a part of the designated pitchers pool. This means that Happ will not be eligible to pitch in the first round, but can be substituted onto the roster for later rounds if they advance. Although the Blue Jays don’t have notable bats of American or Mexican descent, the two countries both brought in two Blue Jays pitchers, and three of them contributed to Toronto having the lowest ERA in the AL last season.
Dalton Pompey will represent Team Canada, and will presumably play centerfield. Pompey, a player who rarely stays on Toronto’s roster for large portions of the regular season, will compete for both Canada this March, and for a spot on the Blue Jays roster after spring training. Russell Martin, who was reportedly going to serve in the infield for the red and white, will not participate because of insurance complications after his recent knee surgery.
While Martin wishes he had been able to participate with Team Canada, former Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders decided not to participate and opted out of his initial agreement to play. Saunders recently signed a one-year $9 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. This decision can either mean that Saunders is nervous he will get injured and once again start the season on the DL, or he simply believes he is ‘too good’ to play for Team Canada.
Jose Bautista, who recently re-signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, will play for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic won the WBC Championship in 2013 defeating Puerto Rico in the championship. Former Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura, and former utility infielder Andy Marte both passed away on January 22nd. Although it is unknown whether Ventura was going to pitch for the Dominican Republic or not, and that Marte never represented his country during the WBC, expect Bautista and his teammates to commemorate both athletes this March.
Minor league pitcher Jordan Roman will play for Team Italy. Roman, who played Single-A last season with the Lansing Lugnuts, a team in the Blue Jays organization, will Join an Italy team that has overachieved in the past. In 2013, Team Italy upset Mexico 6-5, and stunned Team Canada, with a 6-2 victory in 2009. Roman will represent Italy with former Blue Jays infielder Chris Colabello, and ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte.
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