CARY, North Carolina – Team Canada held their first team practice today at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in preparation for their four game exhibition series against the United States to gear up for the IBAF Baseball World Cup and a lot of new faces were on hand.
Manager Ernie Whitt, who is managing in his first World Cup, will have his hands full simply learning all the new faces on the team with nine players being their first time on the Senior National Team and several other making their first appearance in a few years. But Whitt will have one week to evaluate the new talent on his ball club and put together a winning combination.
“We’ve got four games here and my job is to sit back and observe and see what they can do and what they’re capable of and from there we’re going to try and put them in situations where they will the most successful,” says Whitt.
Rene Tosoni (Coquitlam, BC) is one of the new faces on the team. The 2009 All-Star Futures Game MVP has not represented Canada since the 2004 World Junior Championship, and he is looking forward to translating his season successes into this tournament.
“A professional season can be a draining process at times and coming here just rejuvenates you and, not that you don’t come out and play hard during the season, but you want to come out here and play hard and win,” says Tosoni.
Team Canada is entering the World Cup looking to erase their disappointing performance at the 2009 World Baseball Classic last March where the team went two and out in the first round.
“Obviously we weren’t happy with what happened at the Classic,” says Whitt. “We thought we would have a real good hitting team and we really didn’t hit. So there is no question that this time around we want to make a better showing.”
One of the players who was on that 2009 Classic team was Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) and not only does he agree that this is a chance for Team Canada to redeem itself, but he sees a golden future.
“You know, we didn’t have the best tournament last time out, so it would be great to come out and win the World Cup which would be impressive. We’ve got a good group of guys and there is definitely enough talent here to get that done.”
Team Canada opens its exhibition series with the United States on Thursday, September 3rd at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. Game time is 7 PM ET.