By Joe Stiglich
Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 at 10:14 am in Spring Training.
Reliever Brad Ziegler received word that he’s made the final roster for the Team USA squad that will play in next month’s World Baseball Classic. He’s likely to be one of two Athletics in the WBC, as outfielder Chris Denorfia is expected to make Italy’s roster. Every country’s final roster is expected to be announced by Tuesday.
It’s a huge deal for Ziegler. His family has a military history that goes back generations, and he oozes patriotism.
“I’ve wanted this opportunity for a long time. I was trying to campaign to get on the Olympic team, and they told me I would have got it if I didn’t get called up (to Oakland last season),” Ziegler said. “Considering the magnitude of this tournament, to be mentioned in the same breath (as the other players involved) is truly an honor.”
Team USA reports to Clearwater, Fla., on March 1, and Ziegler will be away from the A’s as long as the Americans remain in the tournament. Their first game is March 5 in Toronto, and it’s possible Ziegler and Denorfia could face each other, as the U.S. is in the same pool with Italy, Canada and Venezuela.
A’s manager Bob Geren isn’t worried about Ziegler’s preparation for the regular season being affected by pitching in the WBC. “I think with the intensity of games like that being higher than spring training or a Cactus League game, it will be good for him. He’s really a one-inning kind of guy. He’ll be fine. When the spring is over, he’ll have the right amount of innings when we go to Anaheim (April 6 for the season opener).”
Other tidbits from Geren’s morning media chat:
–He’s gone over possible batting orders in his head, and is still tinkering with the idea of hitting Jack Cust second because of his high on-base percentage. “I’ve thought about it. I haven’t (decided) one way or another on it.”
–Right-hander Edgar Gonzalez and catcher Joel Galarraga are still being delayed by visa problems in Mexico. Both are non-roster players, but Gonzalez is considered a fifth-starter candidate. Because he pitched in winter ball, Geren doesn’t think Gonzalez will be behind. He didn’t say the same for Galarraga. “I think it hurts him. A catcher needs to get through drills and work with pitchers.”
Still no Jason Giambi sighting today, the reporting deadline for position players. When he does arrive, he’ll likely address the media at some point today. Infielder Gregorio Petit and outfielder Javier Herrera, both from Venezuela, are the only position players along with Giambi yet to show.