Archive for the 'Beijing 2008' Category

Taiwan baseball player fails doping test

August 14th, 2008

Bad news from Olympic Baseball, although Chang Tai-shan does not have any relationship with Major League Baseball, he fails doping test by World Anti-Doping Agency before Olympic Start.

Baseball player Chang Tai-shan had returned a positive drug test in a World Anti-Doping Agency operation, the International Olympic Committee confirmed.

“The International Baseball Federation has confirmed the test. It was done outside the Olympic period (starting on July 27),” IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said.

The news will be devastating for the millions of Taiwanese fans who follow their team’s fortunes intimately.

It’s also bad news for China, which in recent months since the change of government in Taiwan has enjoyed a detente of sorts with its old enemy.

Taiwan Baseball Association secretary-general Lin Tsung-cheng said Chang, the third baseman in the team, had not played a part in its opening game against The Netherlands yesterday after the IOC had informed the association of the test results.

Lin, who did not name the drug involved, said a further test will be carried out and if it is positive, Chang will be banned from the rest of the Olympic baseball tournament.

The island’s baseball association has applied to WADA to have Chang take another urine test.

There is speculation that the baseballer may have taken a Chinese cold medication that contains a banned substance, an official from the Taiwanese Olympic Committee said.

Players were advised to avoid these medications during the Games. “The medications are not illegal, but they’re banned for Olympics athletes,” the official said.

“I’m not clear on what happened. I’m not a doctor.”

Baseball is Taiwan’s most popular sport, and Taiwan fans have come to Beijing to cheer on their team, which clinched a spot in the Games in March.

Tawain once hope any good news depends on the second sample, however, the result of B sample is positive too, Chang can not play in Beijing 2008, and probably more than three years at International Baseball, pending a hearing on August 17.

A Taiwan Olympics baseball player has failed a doping test, the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) confirmed Thursday, following the result of a second test sample.

The IBAF notified the Chinese-Taipei delegation at the Beijing Olympics that the B sample of Chang Tai-shan’s urine had tested positive.

The federation had on Wednesday suspended Chang, pending the result of the B sample taken during a test in Taipei on July 7.

A key hitter, Chang denied using banned substances, but said medication intended to improve his fertility or pills he took to cure a cold might be to blame.

The IBAF has scheduled a hearing for August 17 to decide on the length of Chang’s ban, according to the Chinese-Taipei Olympic Committee.

The IBAF, in conjunction with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), collected urine samples from the eight baseball teams that qualified for the Beijing Olympics.

On August 12, IBAF announced that the A sample of Chang’s urine had tested positive.

If the hearing fails to reverse IBAF’s decision, Chang is likely to be banned for three years, and will be the first Taiwan player to have failed a doping test.

Chang’s absence will hurt Taiwan’s chance of winning a medal in the Olympics baseball competition, which began on Wednesday with Taiwan beating the Netherlands 5-0.

Taiwan faced Japan Thursday evening, and has to take on each of the other six teams before learning whether it will advance to the semi-final.

USA won called game, Korea vs China Postponed

August 14th, 2008

At the second day of Olympic Baseball 2008, after a tough lost vs Korea, USA rebound against Netherlands with 7-0, but Korea vs China Games Suspended and Postponed.

Game 5: Game Summary(Box Score)
Team           1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9  R  H  E LOB
United States  0 1 0  4 0 0  1 1    7 10  0   7
Netherlands    0 0 0  0 0 0  0 0    0  1  0   2

Who will win if a college pitcher (Stephen Strasburg) vs. a AAA pitcher (Shairon Martis)? The answer surprise everyone, Strasburg struck out 11 through seven innings but Martis last less than three inning and allow five runs.

Strasburg allowed just one hit and walked one as the U.S. rebounded from a tough 8-7 loss to South Korea the previous night.

Matt LaPorta belted a three-run homer and Matt Brown added a solo shot. Jason Donald had three hits and an RBI.

The game was called with the Netherlands having the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, causing players on the losing team to vent a little.

“Every run we score against the USA is important and anything is possible,” said catcher Sidney de Jong. “With the bases loaded and no outs, we may score eight or we may score three, but everything you take into the next game is important.”

That wasn’t the case though for USA manager Davey Johnson.

“I’m not good at waiting and neither are my guys, but I’m glad they called it when they did,” said Johnson. “When you’re down seven to zip your chances of scoring against my pitching staff is not very good.”

Brown homered to start the second inning, and the U.S. added four more runs in the fourth. Terry Tiffee doubled to begin the frame and Brown walked. With one out, LaPorta homered. Donald doubled in a run later in the inning.

The Americans added another run on a wild pitch in the seventh and Dexter Fowler had an RBI groundout in the eighth.

Game 6: Game Summary(Box Score)
Team    1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9  R  H  E LOB
China   0 0 0  0 0 0         0  2  0   3
Korea   0 0 0  0 0 0         0  3  0   2

And another surprise came from China vs Korea game, the host use their pitching to let Asian opponent quiet for five innings, and after a combined two-and-a-half hour rain delay, they must wait until Aug. 17 to try to break a 0-0 deadlock. The game will be played on the Wukesong Baseball Main Field at 18:00.

Sloppy USA falls, Japan can not win

August 13th, 2008

At the evening game of Olympic Baseball on first day, Korea proved they can beat USA and Cuba once again show their ability at international baseball.

Game 3: Game Summary(Box Score)

Team          1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9   R   H  E LOB
United States 1 0 0  0 2 1  0 0 3   7  12  1   7
Korea         0 2 1  0 3 0  0 0 2   8   9  1   3

From Jeff Faraudo of Bay Area News Group:

The U.S. baseball team had a chance Wednesday to answer Cuba.

But it couldn’t close the deal.

The day after two Cuban players said Japan will be their chief competition for a gold medal in what may be the final Olympic baseball tournament, the Americans dropped their opener, falling 8-7 to South Korea.

The Americans rallied from a 6-4 deficit to take a 7-6 lead on Matt Brown’s two-out, two run single in the top of the ninth but closer Jeff Stevens surrendered two runs in the bottom of the ninth, sabotaging himself with a wild pick-off throw that put the winning run 90 feet from home plate.

The South Koreans capitalized when Lee Jong-wook delivered a sacrifice fly to center to score Lee Taek-keum with the winning run.

Stevens, who pitches in the Cleveland Indians’ organization, came on as the fourth pitcher for the U.S. and immediately gave up a line-drive double down the left-field line to Jeong Keun-woo.

Jeong moved to third on a groundout scored the tying run when second baseman Jayson Nix threw wide to the plate after scooping up a ground ball. Lee was safe at first on the fielder’s choice.

Things went from bad to worse when Stevens fired a pick-off attempt over the head of first baseman Brown, sending Lee to third.

USA Manager Davey Johnson said Brown was listening to instructions from the dugout and didn’t see Stevens’ throw.

“That was basically the ball game,” Johnson said.

The U.S. hit two home runs, the first a solo shot leading off the sixth by Nate Schierholtz, who plays for the Giants’ Triple-A club in Fresno. Mike Hessman blasted a solo shot in the ninth.

The U.S. faces the Netherlands today (Beijing time) and will play the powerful Cubans on Friday (Beijing time). A’s prospect Trevor Cahill is expected to draw the starting pitching assignment against Cuba.

Game 4: Game Summary(Box Score)

Team  1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9  R  H  E  LOB
Japan 0 0 1  0 1 0  0 0 0  2  9  1    7
Cuba  0 1 1  0 2 0  0 0 X  4  9  1   12

From AFP Havana, Cubans use win to celebrate Castro’ 82 birthday.

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who has not been seen in public since falling ill two years ago, quietly turned 82 on Wednesday, as many Cubans instead celebrated an Olympic baseball victory.

Castro, who has not been seen in public since a July 2006 stomach operation for an undisclosed illness, maintains local and international influence through comments in newspapers, and has appeared in videos with visiting heads of government.

But Castro’s birthday coincided with an Olympic baseball match in China between Cuba and Japan and many on the baseball-crazy Caribbean island were glued to their radios to follow the game.

“Of course it’s the birthday of the Commandante (Castro) who I respect more than anyone, but it’s also an important match for our baseball team,” said one government worker, celebrating his team’s 4-2 victory.

And losing some best player to Major League Baseball might influence Japan’s Olympic goal, write AP.

If only Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ichiro Suzuki and Kosuke Fukodome had been in China instead of the majors, Japan might have done better against Cuba in their Olympics opener Wednesday night.

Alfredo Despaigne went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Norge Luis Vera pitched six solid innings to carry Cuba past Japan 4-2 in a rematch of the finals from the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006 — and a preview of the finals, if both teams live up to expectations.

“It was a very difficult game,” Cuba manager Antonio Pacheco said. “It’s always important to win your first game in the Olympics.”

Each starting lineup featured five players from the Classic finale, which Japan won 10-6. The teams actually have met since then, with Cuba beating Japan in the semifinals of the lower-profile Baseball World Cup last November.

“Today, just today, they are better than us,” Japan manager Senichi Hoshino said. “But the Japanese team is good.”

The Cubans have owned the Olympics, winning three of the four gold medals, including the last one, and taking silver the other time. With baseball going off the schedule in 2012, and not guaranteed to return after that, Cuba would love nothing more than to go out on top. And Japan, with only one silver and two bronzes, would also like to leave a better impression on the history books.

On Wednesday, Fidel Castro’s 82nd birthday, the weather was miserable — hot, humid and a constant haze that looked like a fireworks show had just ended. Then rain came in the eighth inning, although loud supporters of both teams never stopped cheering and chanting.

The teams made nice before things got started at Wukesong Baseball Field, exchanging pins before the head of Japan’s baseball federation threw the opening pitch to Cuba’s catcher.

Some inside heaters in the early innings set a different tone. So did a fastball to the backstop on the first pitch from hulking reliever Pedro Luis Lazo against Munenori Kawasaki, who was 2-for-2 with two runs at the time, and a hard slide to break up a double play by Hiroyuki Nakajima, Kawasaki’s pinch-runner after he ended up singling off Lazo.

Both teams wasted great chances to break things open in the early innings, but neither pushed more than one run across at a time. Cuba led 1-0 in the second and 2-1 in the third, but Japan tied it again in the fifth.

Japan starter Yu Darvish, likely to join “Dice-K” as a big-league starter one day, got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second, then struck out Cuba’s cleanup hitter Alexander Malleta with the bases loaded in fourth. But after opening the fifth with a walk and a hard-hit double, he was gone.

Despaigne greeted reliever Yoshihisa Naruse with a liner to left that drove in both runners.

There were fewer scoring threats after that, with fresh arms from the bullpen dominating hitters possible drained by the muggy weather.

Takahiro Abe opened the ninth with a single off Lazo, but he was stuck there. Lazo retired the next three batters, ending the game with a called strikeout of Nakajima.

Vera (1-0) gave up two runs on seven hits with two strikeouts. Lazo gave up two hits and fanned two in three innings for the save.

“I already know that I have the talent,” Vera said. “Next time, I think I need to have more control.”

Darvish (0-1) allowed four runs in four innings, with four walks, seven hits and six strikeouts.

“He was not in good form,” his manager said. “He didn’t do his job today.”

So first day’s four games is over, unexpectedly Korea let world knows their performance of World Baseball Classic can be reproduced, and Cuba remain one of the favorite team to win another Gold in final Olympics.

As for USA and Japan, they both need to regroup and forgot their lost, and face the other six game at the Preliminaries.

Canada, Chinese Taipei shutdown China, Netherland

August 13th, 2008

Day one of 2008 Olympic Games is finished, the first two games in the morning, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) begins the Olympics with 5-0 win over Netherland, and Canada use mercy rule with 10-0 shutdown host China.

Game 1: Game Summary(Box Score)
Team           1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9  R  H  E LOB
Netherlands    0 0 0  0 0 0  0 0 0  0  4  1  3
Chinese Taipei 0 1 0  3 0 1  0 0 X  5  7  0  7

From Taipei Times:

Pitching like the staff ace that he has become, Chen Wei-yin struck out seven over seven shutout innings to lead Taiwan past the Netherlands in a convincing 5-0 win in Game One of the Beijing Olympic baseball tournament at the Wukesong Baseball Field in Beijing yesterday.

The Kaohsiung County native, who enjoyed an outstanding amateur career at various levels of competition prior to being selected by the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s professional league in 2004, was simply magnificent in holding a potent Dutch lineup to three scattered singles over seven scoreless frames.

Fellow reliever Cheng Kai-wen finished off with a near-perfect eighth and ninth to keep the shutout victory intact for Taiwan.

“I couldn’t be happier with my performance today,” an excited Chen said after the game. “The velocity, control and breaking ball were all working as well as they can.”

Doing the damage at the plate with his bat was speedy outfielder Chang Jien-ming who went a team-best two-for-three with a pair of RBIs to keep his team on the wining track.

A patient Lin Chih-sheng showed exceptional discipline at the batter’s box with three drawn walks to jumpstart two of Taiwan’s three scoring rallies.

The contest began with Taiwan wasting little time getting to Dutch starter David Bergman in the bottom of the second with Lin drawing a walk, advancing to third on a double by Jiang Chih-hsien before scoring on Luo Guo-hui’s sacrifice-fly to claim a quick 1-0 lead.

After a scoreless third, Taiwan moved on again with Lin drawing a leadoff walk off Bergman and Luo following in his footsteps one out later to place runners on first and second to set up Yeh Jung-chang’s RBI-single that made it 2-0.

That was not all the runs that Taiwan would score in the fourth as Lin Tseh-hsuan also came through with a bases-loaded single for Taiwan’s third run of the game.

Chang then brought in the fourth run with another sacrifice-fly to give his team a comfortable 4-0 advantage at the end of the fourth.

Doubles by Shih Chih-wei and Chang in the bottom of the sixth scored the fifth and final run of the game for Taiwan which was more than ample for the win as the Dutch made it to second base only twice let alone scoring a run in the lopsided win.

Game 2: Game Summary(Box Score)
Team    1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9   R  H  E  LOB
Canada  0 0 0  3 2 0  1 4    10 10  0   6
China   0 0 0  0 0 0  0 0     0  8  2   7

From CBC Sports:

China was shown no mercy — well, one inning’s worth — by Team Canada in its historic first foray into Olympic baseball.

Chris Begg and two relievers combined on an eight-hitter as Team Canada crushed China 10-0 in eight innings in the preliminary round of men’s baseball at the Summer Games in Beijing on Wednesday.

Begg, a right-hander from Uxbridge, Ont., scattered six hits over 6 2/3 innings and struck out nine batters, including the side in the bottom of the fifth.

“The strikeouts, generally that is not my game,” he said. “I tend to try to place my pitches and get them to put the ball in play.”

“He is one of our best pitchers, in terms of knowing how to pitch,” Canadian manager Terry Puhl said. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here.

“He has had some shoulder injuries. But the man knows how to pitch.”

Ottawa’s Tim Burton and Rheal Cormier, a former major leaguer from Moncton, N.B., mopped up in relief before the mercy rule went into effect.

“I’m going to be going to him a lot,” Puhl said of Cormier.

Scott Thorman of Cambridge, Ont., homered and drove in three runs, Adam Stern of London, Ont., had two runs batted in, and Victoria’s Michael Saunders capped the scoring with a solo home run.

Winnipeg’s Stubby Clapp, Nick Weglarz of Stevensville, Ont., and Jimmy Van Ostrand of Richmond, B.C., had the other RBIs.

“We have good hitters,” Puhl said. “If they continue to have quality at-bats, we’re going to score some runs.”

Chinese starter Bu Tao was tagged with the loss, permitting seven runs — two unearned — on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Bu equalled Begg pitch for pitch through three scoreless innings before finally flinching in top of the fourth inning, yielding singles to Clapp and Saunders to put runners aboard for Thorman, Canada’s hulking clean-up hitter.

Thorman launched a towering home run over the wall in right field to make it 3-0.

“For three innings, it was nail-biting time,” he said. “We had one hit through three innings.

“In a situation like this, the first runs mean so much and we were fortunate to get rolling. Until that point, we were taking nothing for granted and nothing lightly.”

Canada scored twice off reliever Liu Kai in the fifth inning, the first run crossing the plate on a wild pitch and the second on Weglarz’s bases-loaded walk.

Canada went ahead 6-0 in the seventh inning, and piled up four more runs in the eighth.

Chris Robinson was hit by a pitch, took second base on an errant pickoff attempt, and Garcia walked to bring up Stern, who delivered both runners with a soft triple that bounced beyond the reach of centre-fielder Sun Lingfeng.

Clapp later cashed Stern with a sacrifice fly and Saunders ripped a solo homer to right off reliever Li Weiliang to complete the scoring.

“Today was not a good day for us,” Chinese manager Jim Lefebvre said. “We’re a much better team than we showed.”

Canada, which went 6-1 in Olympic qualifying, is determined to improve on its fourth-place finish at the 2004 Athens Games, when it lost 11-2 to Japan in the bronze-medal game.

The five players retained from that squad — Begg, Clapp, Mike Johnson, Ryan Radmanovich and Stern — know the supreme test will be Thursday’s preliminary game showdown with three-time defending champion Cuba (5:49 a.m. ET, CBC Sports.ca).

As much as China was excited by the prospect of competing in baseball for the first time at Beijing, the sport won’t be retained at the 2012 London Olympics.

Cuba Announces Olympic Team

July 23rd, 2008

Cuba, the most powerful force of Olympic Baseball, had won three Gold Medal in fourth Olympics, announce the 24-man roster including stars such as Yulieski Gourriel and Norge Luis Vera.

The defending Olympic champion also has Pedro L. Lazo with team, who will be making his record fourth Olympic baseball appearance.

Cuba begins the defense of its gold medal against another gold-medal favorite Japan on August 13.

The traditional powerhouse at the Olympics, Cuba has dealt with some losses since 2006, including a World Baseball Classic defeat to Japan and gold medal losses to the U.S. in the 2007 World Cup and 2006 Americas Olympic qualifying tournament.

The roster is similar as Cuba team at Haarlemse Honkbalweek, but five players left.

Five players were eliminated from the preliminary roster, catcher Yosvany Peraza, infielder Yoandy Garlobo, outfielder Osmani Urrutia – the biggest surprise -, and pitchers Elier Sánchez and Miguel Lahera.

Cuba has won three of the four Olympic gold medals since baseball became a medal sport in 1992 — settling for silver in 2000 when it was upset by the United States.

The roster is:

Catchers: Ariel Pestano, Rolando Meriño, Eriel Sánchez.

Infielders: Alexander Malleta, Héctor Olivera, Yulieski Gourriel, Michel Enríquez, Eduardo Paret, Luis Miguel Navas.

Outfielders: Giorvis Duvergel, Yoandry Urgellés, Alexei Bell, Frederich Cepeda, Alfredo Despaigne

Pitchers: Pedro L. Lazo, Yunieski Maya, Jonder Martínez, Yulieski González, Yadier Pedroso, Vicyohandri Odelín, Adiel Palma, Norberto González, Norge Luis Vera, Luis Miguel Rodríguez.

A Major League Problem for USA Baseball Team

July 22nd, 2008

Before the final roster announce, USA Olympic Baseball Team need to add three more players due to Major League Problem.

The U.S. Olympic baseball team, whose roster was announced last Wednesday, will get together for the first time next week in San Jose, but there will be a few no-shows at the party.

Three players — left-hander Geno Espineli, left-hander Clayton Richard and catcher Taylor Teagarden — all were called up to their major league clubs in recent days, making them ineligible to compete in Beijing.

Players under contract to big-league teams, as well as other professional players, can compete in the Olympic Games — but not if they’re on their club’s 25-man major league roster.

Teagarden was called up Friday by the Texas Rangers, Espineli was promoted on Sunday to the San Francisco Giants, and Richard joined the Chicago White Sox earlier today. All three had been playing in Triple A.

USA Baseball, which had one open roster spot to fill by Tuesday’s deadline for setting Olympic teams, now must find four players. A team spokesman said a final roster will be released on Wednesday.

The good news is, Colorado decide to let one in.

The country, or at least its baseball team, needs infielder Jayson Nix more than the Rockies.

The Rockies designated Nix for assignment Saturday after Team USA asked if the club would make him available for the Olympics in Beijing.

Nix, who is out of Minor League options and has to be exposed to other teams through waivers in order to be sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs, must be on a Minor League roster by Monday to be eligible for the Games.

It was with Team USA that Nix has had his highest baseball moment. In the 2007 International Baseball Federation World Cup in Taipei City, Taiwan, Nix went 12-for-31 with six extra-base hits to lead the U.S. to the gold medal and the earn tournament’s most valuable player honors.

Nix, 25, began the year as the Rockies’ starting second baseman, but he hit .125 (7-for-56) in two stints with the big club. The Rockies called up third baseman Ian Stewart in his place.

All that would stand between Nix and Team USA would be another club claiming him and placing him on its Major League roster.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said USA Baseball officials talked with Rockies assistant general manager Bill Geivett about acquiring Nix’s services.

“If he gets through [waivers] and has the opportunity to play in the Olympics, I think that adds tremendous value to somebody’s career,” Hurdle said.

Nix, the Rockies top pick (44th overall) in 2001, would give the Rockies’ system three players on Team USA. Center-field prospect Dexter Fowler and right-handed reliever Casey Weathers, the club’s top choice in 2007, also have been chosen.

So does a Twins player.

Triple-A Rochester left-hander Brian Duensing has been named to the U.S. Olympic baseball team.

Duensing is scheduled to join the team on Monday for exhibition games in Durham, N.C., on Aug. 1-3. The team will then fly to Beijing, China, for the start of the Olympic Games.

The Twins prospect, who is 5-10 with a 4.18 ERA in 22 starts for the Red Wings this season, is not unfamiliar with international competition. Duensing pitched for Team USA last November in the IBAF World Cup in Taiwan. He started the gold medal game against Cuba and helped Team USA to pick up its first victory in the event in 33 years. The U.S. victory also ended a streak of nine consecutive gold medals by Cuba.

And another Rays.

Before spring training began in February, Jeremy Cummings had made up his mind that this was going to be his last year in professional baseball.

After all, the former South Charleston High and West Virginia University pitcher had spent the previous nine seasons in the minor leagues without ever receiving a call up to the big leagues.

Cummings, however, might want to reconsider retirement. He was named Monday to the U.S. Olympic baseball roster for next month’s Summer Games in Beijing, China.

“I just got the phone call this morning,” said the 32-year-old Cummings via cell phone Monday evening from the Triple-A Durham Bulls’ locker room. “I was running around trying to find a passport photo all morning and I’ve got to pitch tonight so I’ve been busy. It’s just an honor making the team. You never know what’s going to happen.”

“It was pretty awesome this morning when he told us,” added Jeffery Slack, Cummings’ stepfather, from his home Monday evening in South Charleston. “We were kind of surprised. He was pretty excited. He’s been working hard all of his life. Maybe all of his hard work is going to pay off.”

The U.S. Olympic team named 23 of the 24 players to its roster last week. The San Francisco Giants called up left-handed pitcher Geno Espineli on Sunday, five days after he was named to Olympic team, opening up another roster spot. Former major league manager Davey Johnson will lead the U.S. Olympic squad.

“He’s been in our discussion for several months now,” said Paul Seiler, executive director and chief executive officer of USA Baseball, of Cummings. “He’s been a guy that’s absolutely been on our radar. His numbers speak for themselves. We know what he can do and we’ll figure out what his role is once we get together.”

Since Cummings decided this year would be his last, it has turned out to be one of his best seasons. After getting released by the Toronto Blue Jays out of spring training, Cummings spent two weeks at home before traveling to Taiwan in search of a job.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound right-hander didn’t have to wait long as the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays came calling after about a month and in May, Cummings signed with the Rays. He was sent to the Durham (N.C.) Bulls, the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate in the International League.

Cummings posted a 7-2 record with a 2.82 earned run average to earn a spot in last Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game in Louisville, Ky. He struck out two in one inning for the International League All-Stars.

In addition, Cummings, who was married last December, is expecting a child sometime in September.

“Going into the season I planned on this being my last year,” he said. “That might change with all these doors opening. Things happen when you pitch well. There’s nothing really different. [I’m] just getting more outs.

“I’m probably a little bit more relaxed [with] no worries just going out there and having fun. Pitchingwise, I haven’t changed much from what I’ve been doing my whole career. You go in day in [and] day out doing your same routine and I guess finally it all clicks for you.”

Cummings will head to San Jose, Calif., on July 28 for Olympic orientation where he will receive his Team USA uniform. The U.S. Olympic team will then return to Durham, N.C., and play three exhibition games against Canada on Aug. 1-4 before heading to Beijing on Aug. 5. The Olympic baseball competition will take place Aug. 13-23.

Cummings will also walk with other U.S. Olympic team members during the opening ceremonies. This year’s selection to the U.S. Olympic team carries a little more prestige. This is the last time baseball will be an Olympic sport for the foreseeable future.

“I’ve dreamed of it when I was young of being an Olympic athlete,” he said. “I never thought the opportunity would come.”

Seiler said he knew Cummings would be a great addition to Team USA after a meeting in his office several weeks ago.

“I was very impressed with his grasp that this just isn’t something else I got a phone call on,” Seiler said. “This is something special. I’m happy he made the team. I think there’s a lot of character there. If we have a team of 24 Jeremy Cummings, we’re going to be in good shape.”

After playing four years at WVU, Cummings was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 21st round of the 1999 amateur draft. He spent seven years with the Cardinals organization, then played in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system in 2006 and the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays organizations in 2007. He owns a 68-54 record with a 3.86 ERA in 10 seasons in the minors.

“[Doors are opening] for some kind of reason,” said Cummings, who has played in Triple-A the past three seasons. “I don’t know if it’s God’s will, but they’re happening.”

USA announce Olympic Roster

July 16th, 2008

After 2008 MLB All Star Games, USA Baseball announce the 23 of the 24 members of its 2008 Olympic Baseball Team.

The team features 12 pitchers and 11 position players. The 24th member of the Olympic Team will be named in the coming days, ahead of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad’s (BOCOG) July 22 cut-off date.

“We are proud of the ballclub we have assembled,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. “The team is strong from top to bottom, and we are confident it will succeed in Beijing. We applaud our coaching staff and selection committee for their tireless work in putting together an excellent team.”

The initial 23-member roster includes Cleveland Indians OF Matt LaPorta (Port Charlotte, Fla.). LaPorta was recently dealt by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Cleveland Indians as the key piece of a trade that brought 2007 A.L. Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee. Baseball America currently ranks LaPorta as the top prospect in Cleveland’s farm system, and the outfield slugger was also a member of the 2005 USA Baseball National Team (Collegiate).

One special name show up at the list too, and San Diego State righthander Stephen Strasburg, who pitched for USA Baseball’s college national team this summer, went 3-0, 1.33 for that club, striking out 40 and walking four in 27 innings, is the ONLY collegiate player at the final roster.

As a sophomore at San Diego State, Strasburg established himself as the top prospect for the 2009 draft, going 8-3, 1.57 and posting a 133-16 strikeout-walk ledger in 97 innings. He allowed only one home run as he commanded a mid-to-high 90s fastball that regularly hit 99 mph and a power slider.

Strasburg made national headlines this year following a 23-strikeout performance against Utah on April 11, 2008, that was part of a breakthrough sophomore campaign. The 19-year-old righty, who turns 20 on Sunday, is currently anchoring the pitching staff on the 2008 USA Baseball National Team. The team of collegiate all-stars is fresh off a first-place finish at Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands, which included two victories over the Cuban National Team.

“Our reports from (Team USA college national general manager) Eric Campbell were very good. He was on our radar before this summer. He throws high 90s and he throws strikes. He pounds the strike zone awfully good and he was lights out in the tournament. He’s one of my starters,” Team USA manager Davey Johnson said.

Not only prospect and collegiate player, the Olympic Team is laden with veteran talent — 14 players are currently playing at the Triple-A. Seven players are in Double-A, one in Class A and one at the collegiate level.

Bob Watson, USA Baseball General Manager of Professional Teams said that they were looking for a roster of experienced players.

“We knew going in that we wanted a veteran club, a team of guys who have been battle-tested, so to speak,” Watson said. “But we wanted younger prospects as well, guys with the fire to go out and showcase their talents on the international stage.”

The lineup also features several Triple-A veterans with some big league experience, such as corner infielder Terry Tiffee (Dodgers), who’s hitting .393 to lead the Pacific Coast League; third baseman Mike Hessman (Tigers), whose 30 homers rank second in the minors; outfielder John Gall (Marlins), a veteran of the college national team from his college days at Stanford; and righhanders Mike Koplove (Dodgers) and Blaine Neal (Tigers).

Power arms is easy to see at this roster.

Power arms have proven vital for Team USA in past international tournaments, including recent gold-medal victories in the 2007 World Cup and 2006 Olympic qualifier. Strasburg has the biggest arm on the roster but not the only one, as a quartet of young starters likely will join him in the rotation: Athletics farmhands Brett Anderson, a lefthander, and Trevor Cahill, a righthander, along with Orioles righthander Jake Arrieta and White Sox lefthander Clayton Richard. All four pitched well in Sunday’s Futures Game, as did reliever Casey Weathers (Rockies), who competes with Strasburg for the title of the team’s hardest thrower. He topped out at 98 mph in the Futures Game.

For the bullpen, Johnson has difference view and idea.

Johnson said that he plans to divide his bullpen into two sections. While the closer, which could be Weathers or Indians righthander Jeff Stevens, will pitch whenever needed, the rest of the bullpen will likely be divided into pitchers who are used every other day. Righthander Brandon Knight, a pitcher with experience pitching in Japan, will likely serve as a long reliever while also giving the bullpen some experience.

“That’s how I’ve always done it,” Johnson said. “Relievers are setup to pitch every other day. You want to give them a day’s rest. If you have a great (group) a and (group) b you always send a guy up there that is pretty fresh.”

Manager and coach is also one of the best.

The 2008 U.S. Olympic Baseball Team will be led by Manager Davey Johnson (Winter Park, Fla.). Johnson returns to USA Baseball on the heels of a gold medal-winning performance last November at the 2007 IBAF Baseball World Cup in Taiwan. That team included All-Star Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, as well as two players named to the Olympic roster: St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Colby Rasmus (Columbus, Ga.) and Cleveland Indians right-handed pitcher Jeff Stevens (Berkeley, Calif.).

Johnson will be joined by the same coaches he has worked with at USA Baseball since the 2005 IBAF Baseball World Cup. Marcel Lachemann (Penryn, Calif.) is the team’s pitching coach, and Reggie Smith (Woodland Hills, Calif.) will act as the hitting coach. Third-base coach Rick Eckstein (Sanford, Fla.) and auxiliary coaches Dick Cooke (Davidson, N.C.) and Rolando de Armas (Palm Harbor, Fla.) round out the staff.

“We have an unbelievable coaching staff,” said Johnson, who in addition to his international accomplishments, also achieved wide-spread success as player and coach in the big leagues, including leading the 1986 New York Mets to a World Series title.

“We have worked together for over three years now and across several international tournaments. With the staff’s help, I think we achieved the well-balanced lineup that is critical for Olympic success.”

USA Baseball alumni is easy to see at the roster.

In addition to LaPorta, Strasburg, Rasmus, and Stevens, the Olympic Team also features five other USA Baseball alumni: Oakland Athletics left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson (Midland, Tex.; 2005 18U, 2004 16U), Baltimore Orioles right-handed pitcher Jake Arietta (Farmington, Mo.; 2006 National), Florida Marlins outfielder John Gall (Stanford, Calif.; 1998-99 National), Texas Rangers catcher Taylor Teagarden (Dallas, Tex.; 2004 National), and Colorado Rockies right-handed pitcher Casey Weathers (Elk Grove, Calif.; 2006 National).

LaPorta, Anderson, Arietta, Teagarden and Weathers were also members of the 2008 XM Future Stars USA Team during Major League Baseball’s All-Star weekend. The game, which saw the U.S. fall to the World Team 3-0, acted as an Olympic Trials event for Johnson and his staff. Trevor Cahill (Oceanside, Calif.), Jason Donald (Fresno, Calif.), Dexter Fowler (Atlanta, Ga.) and Clayton Richard (Lafayette, Ind.) were also members of the Futures Team who are on the Olympic roster.

For a team who lead by Tommy Lasorda and featuring Ben Sheets and Roy Oswalt to won the gold medal over Cuba in Sydney 2000, they rather not to think about other Olympics, include finished fourth (Barcelona, 1992), third (bronze, Atlanta, 1996) and did not qualify for the Athens Games in 2004.

And one question remain.

With only 23 players named, Team USA still has one spot left open. General manager Bob Watson said that they hope to fill the final roster spot shortly. The roster doesn’t have to be officially finalized until July 22. And with trades and callups still on the horizon, it is possible that some of the players named today will not be headed to Beijing.

“The trading deadline is July 31,” Watson said. “Just like Matt was traded from Milwaukee to Cleveland, we have some players who might be included in one or more deals. We just hope the club who is getting the player will have the mentality to let us have him, like Cleveland has with Matt.”

Below is the roster list

Name Pos B/T Ht. Wt. Hometown
Anderson, Brett P L/L 6-4 215 Midland, TX
Arrieta, Jake P R/R 6-4 225 Farmington, MO
Barden, Brian IF R/R 5-11 185 Templeton, CA
Brown, Matthew IF R/R 6-0 200 Bellevue, WA
Cahill, Trevor P R/R 6-3 195 Oceanside, CA
Donald, Jason IF R/R 6-1 190 Fresno, CA
Espineli, Geno P L/L 6-4 195 Houston, TX
Fowler, Dexter OF S/R 6-4 175 Atlanta, GA
Gall, John OF R/R 6-0 195 Stanford, CA
Hessman, Mike IF R/R 6-5 215 Fountain Valley, CA
Jepsen, Kevin P R/R 6-3 215 Anaheim, CA
Knight, Brandon P L/R 6-0 195 Oxnard, CA
Koplove, Mike P R/R 6-0 160 Philadelphia, PA
LaPorta, Matt OF R/R 6-2 210 Port Charlotte, FL
Marson, Lou C R/R 6-1 200 Scottsdale, AZ
Neal, Blaine P L/R 6-5 240 Marlton, NJ
Rasmus, Colby OF L/L 6-2 195 Columbus, GA
Richard, Clayton P L/L 6-5 240 Lafayette, IN
Stevens, Jeff P R/R 6-2 205 Berkeley, CA
Strasburg, Stephen P R/R 6-5 215 San Diego, CA
Teagarden, Taylor C R/R 6-1 200 Dallas, TX
Tiffee, Terry IF S/R 6-3 215 North Little Rock, AR
Weathers, Casey P R/R 6-1 200 Elk Grove, CA

Netherlands announce Olympic Roster

July 14th, 2008

After Haarlem Honkbalweek finished, Manger Robert Eenhoorn of Nederlands announce the Final 24 man roster of 2008 Olympic Team.

The Roster is:
Pitcher:
– David Bergman (Corendon Kinheim)
– Leon Boyd (DOOR Neptunus)
– Rob Cordemans (Sparta/Feyenoord)
– Michiel van Kampen (Corendon Kinheim)
– Diegomar Markwell (DOOR Neptunus)
– Shairon Martis (Columbus Clippers, USA)
– Loek van Mil (Beloit Snappers, USA)
– Alexander Smit (Sarasoto Reds, USA)
– Juan Carlos Sulbaran (American Heritage, USA)
– Pim Walsma (L&D Amsterdam Pirates)

Catcher:
– Sidney de Jong (L&D Amsterdam Pirates)
– Tjerk Smeets (Corendon Kinheim)

Infielder:
– Sharnol Adriana (Rojos del Aguilla de Veracruz, Mexico)
– Yurendell de Caster (Columbus Clippers, USA)
– Michael Duursma (Konica Minolta Pioniers)
– Percy Isenia (Sparta/Feyenoord)
– Roel Koolen (Corendon Kinheim)
– Raily Legito (DOOR Neptunus)
– Jeroen Sluijter (DOOR Neptunus)

Outfielder:
– Bryan Engelhardt (Corendon Kinheim)
– Eugene Kingsale (DOOR Neptunus)
– Dirk van ’t Klooster (Corendon Kinheim)
– Martijn Meeuwis (DOOR Neptunus)
– Danny Rombley (Corendon Kinheim)

The staff is:
Robert Eenhoorn – manager
Brian Farley – pitching coach
Wim Martinus – 1st base coach
Jack Hubbard – 3rd base coach
Paul van den Oever – coach
Martijn van Berkel – sportfysiotherapeut
Rob Tamminga – sportfysiotherapeut
Kees Sleegers – teamleider
Steve Matthew – scout
Frans Bergman – materiaal

Netherlands Team will leave on July 26th to Korea and play five warmup games with Korea Olympic Team, then travel to Beijing on August 8th and play two games with Canada Olympic Team before 2008 Beijing Olympic Games begin.

Canada Announces 2008 Olympic Team

July 11th, 2008

Baseball Canada just Announces the 2008 Olympic Team, they released the 24 man rosters(including six returning players from the 2004 Olympic team that finished fourth in Athens.), four coaches and four support staff members that will represent Canada at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing August 13-24.

“This is a tremendous time for Baseball Canada and we are very excited about our Olympic team,” says Ray Carter, the association’s president. “The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of competition and to represent our country this summer is a great honor we hold very dear.”

“Selecting this team has been a challenging process, but we’re anxious to get going and have high hopes for our team in Beijing,” says Greg Hamilton, Baseball Canada’s Director of National Teams.

A total of 15 players on the team and the entire coaching staff and three of the four support staff are returning together after participating in last March’s Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Taichung, Taiwan, where Canada finished first in the eight-team tournament to claim one of three remaining berths to the Olympics.

This summer’s Olympic team will be managed by Terry Puhl, who played 15 seasons in the majors and who led the Canadian team at the 2007 IBAF World Cup in Taipei, Taiwan and the Final Olympic Qualifier team in Taichung, Taiwan.

“We have a very good mix of experience and youth on this ball club,” says Puhl. “The World Cup and Qualifier was a chance to give our younger guys some invaluable international experience and I believe that this team is more than capable of winning a medal.”

Baseball Canada’s Olympic team will convene in Toronto on July 28 to begin its Olympic training camp. The team will participate in a golf tournament which will be open to the media at Lionhead Golf & Country Club on July 29 at 8:30 am and will hold a practice open to the media on July 30 at Connorvale Park in Etobicoke from 3:00-6:30 pm.

The Canadian team will then participate in a pre-Olympic exhibition series from August 1-4 in Cary, North Carolina and Durham, North Carolina against the U.S. Olympic Team, followed by a pair of exhibition games against the Netherlands on August 9 and 10 in Beijing in preparation for the Summer Games, which will include the U.S., the Dutch, Cuba, China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea in the baseball event.

Here is Chinese Version.

Nate Schierholtz, Chris Valaika & Mike Hessman is possible for USA

July 9th, 2008

For the second straight year, Toledo Mud Hens’ third baseman Mike Hessman has been invited to participate in the 2008 Triple-A All-Star game’s home run derby, and he is one of the possibility for Team USA in Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

So does Fresno Grizzlies right fielder Nate Schierholtz.

Fresno Grizzlies right fielder Nate Schierholtz didn’t do anything special Wednesday night, he did what he normally does. And that’s why he’s a candidate for the U.S. Olympic baseball team.

Schierholtz drove in two runs to tie the score in the ninth inning and Scott McClain ended the game with a run-scoring single to center field to give the Grizzlies their fifth straight win, 8-7, against the Portland Beavers at Chukchansi Park. It was Fresno’s third walk-off victory in four games.

Schierholtz went to the plate with the bases loaded and the pitcher pressing. His hit to right field began hooking toward the chalk.

“I was just hoping it would stay fair,” Schierholtz said. “I guess it hit the line. The umpire told me I hit it in just the right spot. I guess it was my lucky night.”

Or just another ordinary night.

Coming into the game he was batting, .293 with 53 RBIs, 12 home runs, nine triples, 18 walks and nine stolen bases. He went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Some say the only reason he’s not in the majors is because Randy Winn is playing right field for the parent San Francisco Giants. (Ironically, Winn and Schierholtz both went to San Ramon Valley High.)

“He’s a total package waiting to be opened up,” Grizzlies manager Dan Rohn said. “Hopefully he gets a chance here pretty soon.”

That’s why Schierholtz called his situation win-win. If he doesn’t make the Olympic team, he can come back to Fresno and concentrate on getting called up.

He’s eligible for the U.S. Olympic baseball team because he was chosen for the Futures Game, which takes place Sunday at Yankee Stadium. The Olympic team roster will be finalized July 16.

Until then he’ll enjoy his time at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s going to be pretty neat to play where the Babe and everyone played,” Schierholtz said. “I know it’s only one day, but it’ll be a day I bring my camera and have a lot of fun.”

And Chattanooga Lookouts shortstop Chris Valaika.

A Hart baseball product has a shot at being named to the U.S. Olympic baseball team, which will play in Beijing, China.

Whether he ends up being chosen or not, Chris Valaika will play in one of the shrines of Major League Baseball.

On Thursday, Valaika was named to the Team USA roster to play in the XM All-Star Futures Game. On July 13, he will play in Yankee Stadium, in a game against the World Team that is part of All-Star Sunday.

Valaika plays shortstop for the Chattanooga Lookouts, a Class AA-level team of the Cincinnati Reds.

“That’s big-time,” said Hart High School baseball head coach Jim Ozella said. “It qualifies him to make it to the U.S. Olympic team. Pro people think very highly of him.”

Valaika is hitting .269 for Chattanooga and .311 overall with 11 home runs this season. He was called up after hitting .363 with Saratoga in the Florida State League.

“He’s rising to the challenge,” Ozella said.

Valaika holds the Hart Indians’ school record for most career home runs with 18.

He earned All-Foothill League honors his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He received first team All-State and first team All-CIF honors as a junior and senior.

Valaika was drafted by the Reds in the third round of the 2006 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

He won gold medals at the Pan-Am Games in Santo Domingo and at the 2004 World Championship in Taiwan.

Valaika also played for UC Santa Barbara, where he was named Big West Freshman of the Year.

Looks like more challenge for other teams.

Next »

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