The Year 2013 is off to a great start for three Royals’ alumni.
According to BCPBL.com, infielder Taylor Green, 25, and left-handed pitcher Mark Hardy, 23, were recently named to Team Canada’s roster of 27 for MLB’s upcoming World Baseball Classic. Canada’s WBC opener is March 8 against Italy in Arizona.
“It’s a big deal, a great accomplishment,” confirmed Royals’ head coach Dave Wallace.
This is the third WBC, a 16-team tournament played out over two continents, every four years (the qualifying rounds started last fall). The World Baseball Classic teams on this side of the equator are made up entirely of major league players.
Team USA will pencil in the likes of R.A. Dickey, 2012 MLB National League Cy Young Award winner and former American League MVP, Minnesota Twins’ catcher Joe Mauer.
Team Canada will have a strong B.C contingent, led by the likes of Justin Morneau, former American League MVP, and John Axford, a closer for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Pool A is in Japan, Pool B is in Taiwan, Pool C in Puerto Rico and Pool D (Canada, USA, Italy and Mexico) in Phoenix, Arizona, with two of Team Canada’s three games to be played at Chase Field where MLB’s Diamondbacks play their home games in front of 48,000-plus. The top two teams from each pool then advance to the second rounds slated for Miami and Tokyo.
For most of the Central American teams, it’s the end of their winter season. For the North Americans, it’s the start of their season.
The championship round, a four-team single elimination, goes March 17-18 at AT&T Park in San Fran.
“So a quick turnaround; a lot of baseball that’s for sure. It’s a big commitment,” said Wallace. “It’s a great showcase for the game.”
Worth noting is that including the two former Royals and one other Island player, there are 11 BC players on Team Canada’s roster — 10 of which are BCPBL graduates.
“The whole outfield is BC guys,” Wallace, one of the BC Premier Baseball League’s founding fathers and longstanding skipper of the hometown Royals, chuckled with a ring of pride.
Hardy, from Campbell River, is currently pitching down south at the AA, AAA level as part of the San Diego Padres’ organization, Green, a utility/infielder (and recently married) from Courtenay is now playing for the MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers.
“Just to be involved with it is a great honour,” Wallace confirmed, pointing out “the WBC is baseball’s equivalent to being on the Canadian Olympic team for hockey.”
Dave and his wife Judy will be in Phoenix the end of February for their annual spring training baseball pilgrimage and will take in the first round WBC action.
MEANWHILE down under in Australia, Royal’s alum shortstop Carter Bell, 22, part of the MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks organization; is playing winter ball for the Perth Heat, and on fire for the reigning champions of the Australian Baseball League. In his last 10 games, Carter has 18 hits, 3 doubles, 2 stolen bases and a home run. His 26 RBI lead the Heat and place third in the league overall.
“He’s having a good year,” said his former coach. “He’s doing very well.”