DUNEDIN, FL – Team Canada held its first team workout in Dunedin, Florida today and as the team prepares for the World Baseball Classic, it is also fine tuning the finer points prior to beginning the tournament on March 7th.
Team Canada Manager Ernie Whitt has some work ahead of him in order to piece together the lineup he will put out on the field.
“These three days will be interesting,” says Whitt. “Hopefully we will have enough time to take a look at (the players we haven’t seen), evaluate them and do the best that we can.”
If there is one thing the Team Canada staff does not have to worry about, and is common with Canadian teams in the past, is team bonding.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve got 20 years experience or if you’ve got no experience, that doesn’t matter here,” says Adam Stern. “Everyone get treated the same and everyone is here for one goal and that is to win.”
One example is Team Canada newcomer Mark Teahen. Teahen was born in Redlands, California, but his father Michael is from St. Mary’s, Ontario. Michael was a member of the Canadian National Team in the 70s and the stories he would share with his son was motivation to follow his roots.
“My dad would tell me stories about playing for the Canadian team and going to the Pan-Am Games and everything else he got to do and he still has alot of close friends who played with for those years and I’m excited to be able to follow in his footsteps in that way,” says Mark Teahen.
But if his father was not motivation enough, there were some extra nudging from contemporaries.
“I’ve been talking with (Justin) Morneau quite a bit and I played with Matt Stairs for two years in Kansas City and this is something I’ve wanted to do is represent Canada,” says Teahen.
“I’m sorry I missed out on the first WBC, but it was just too early in my career and the Royals needed me in camp. It’s nice to be able to finally to play for Team Canada.”
On the field today, players went through fielding and batting practice and some strategy in order to get in the best game shape as quickly as possible.
The pitching continues to be the biggest head scratcher for the coaching staff as they are still deciphering through who will get the ball in the first game.
“Our biggest challenge at this time is that we have 27 innings to cover with 13 pitchers and if you do the math it just doesn’t work out very well,” says Whitt of using his pitchers over the three upcoming exhibition games.
Team Canada begins their exhibition schedule on Tuesday, March 3rd against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin. Game time is 1:05 pm. The Canadians will follow that up with contest against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater on March 4th and finally against the New York Yankees in Tampa on March 5th.
Then Canada will make its way to Toronto for Pool C action of the World Baseball Classic and will first take on the United States on March 7th at 2 pm at the Rogers Center.