TORONTO – After a heartbreaking loss to the United States on Saturday in the opener of the World Baseball Classic, Team Canada was back on the field for a workout today at the Rogers Centre in preparation for an elimination game against Italy on Monday.
Vince Perkins (Victoria, BC) will be getting the ball against the Italians as he looks to follow the example set by his teammates against the Americans and also show that he still has the stuff to pitch on the big stage.
“My arm's never felt better than it does right now,” says Perkins, who has had injury issues over last two seasons. “I've had a tough couple years, and I feel like I've come off it finally pretty well and I'm just ready to go.”
Against the United States on Saturday, the Canadian lineup got the chunk of their offence from Joey Votto (Toronto, ON), who went 4-for-5 with a home run, double and two RBI, and Russell Martin (Chelsea, QC), who went 2-for-4 with a homer and double.
But for Team Canada to be successful at the WBC, they are going to need everyone to contribute.
“It's really key to have all of our guys hitting,” says Team Canada Manager Ernie Whitt. “We want to be going on all cylinders. Again, that takes a lot of pressure off the pitching staff, too. We had some opportunities yesterday, we just didn't cash in on them.”
But one thing is for certain, Canada will not be taking Team Italy for granted and they will not be looking ahead. When asked how he would manage the pitching staff for two consecutive elimination games, Whitt was very direct about what lies ahead.
“Well, (Monday is) elimination day.”
“We're playing it one inning at a time. And, you know, we can't let the game get out of hand.”
When Canada hits the field on Monday, the hometown crowd will once again be on their side. And for Perkins, who has said he never pitched in front of a big crowd such as the one on Saturday, will keep his focus on the task at hand.
“For me, you just kind of try your best to just keep it simple, block things out, and just throw strikes, and, you know, focus on what you are there to do.”
“It definitely helps to have a crowd behind you,” adds Perkins. “I think you can sense the urgency, sure, but I just try and focus on what my job is when I'm out there.”
Team Canada will take on Team Italy in an elimination game of the World Baseball Classic on Monday, March 9th at the Rogers Centre. Dan Serafini will get the ball for Italy against Vince Perkins. Game time is 6:30 pm.