SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Joe Torre has taken a different approach in the World Baseball Classic this year.
Rather than stock his entire U.S. roster with high-profile stars, he’s got a basic starting nine with utility players, three catchers and 15 pitchers.
The Americans went through their only pre-tournament workout Monday, at Salt River Fields, the spring training home of Arizona and Colorado. They have exhibition games against the White Sox and Rockies before their opener Friday against Mexico at Chase Field.
Though the team includes Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun, Mets third baseman David Wright and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Torre chose only one player at each infield position.
Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins is at shortstop and Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips will play second. Their backups are Arizona’s Willie Bloomquist and Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist, with Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer expected to fill in some at first base as well as a designated hitter. The outfielders are Braun, Baltimore’s Adam Jones and Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, with Boston’s Shane Victorino another option.
The other catchers are Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy and Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia, who gets to catch knuckleballer R.A. Dickey – his new teammate on the Blue Jays – in Friday’s opener.
The Americans’ group includes Canada and Italy. After round-robin play concludes with the Canada-U.S. game on Sunday, the top two nations advance to the second round in Florida.
CUBA 12, CHINA 0
In Fukuoka, Japan, Jose Abreu hit a grand slam to help Cuba clobber China and ensure it would advance to the second round.
SOUTH KOREA 6, AUSTRALIA 0
In Taipei, Taiwan, Seung Song allowed two hits in four innings, lifting the South Koreans to 1-1 in Group B and setting up a crucial game against host Taiwan today. Australia fell to 0-2.