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.

USA finalizes Olympic roster

July 24th, 2008

Finally, USA Baseball announced the 24th member of its 2008 Olympic Team, and also the three replacements for players named to the initial roster.

Colorado Rockies second baseman Jayson Nix (Midland, Texas) was named as the 24th player to the roster. Currently in Triple-A Colorado Springs, Nix has spent time with the Major League club this season, hitting .125 with two runs, two RBI and a stolen base.

USA Baseball honored Nix with the 2007 Richard W. “Dick” Case Award for his play on the USA Baseball World Cup Team last November. The award recognizes USA Baseball’s Athlete of the Year and honors the organization’s founding Executive Director/CEO. The Rockies prospect went 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs, a run scored and a walk in a 6-3 win over Cuba in the World Cup gold-medal final in Taipei, Taiwan. In winning the gold, the U.S. snapped a 33-year winless streak at the World Cup, and it ended a run of nine consecutive championships for Cuba.

Also named to the team are Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeremy Cummings, Minnesota Twins pitcher Brian Duensing and San Francisco Giants outfielder Nate Schierholtz. The three players were added as replacements for Chicago White Sox pitcher Clayton Richard and San Francisco Giants pitcher Geno Espineli — both of whom were recently called-up by their Major League clubs — and St. Louis Cardinals OF Colby Rasmus who is injured.

Duensing was also a member of the 2007 World Cup Team, going 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA and four strikeouts. He also started the gold-medal final against Cuba, giving up only one earned run with two strikeouts in a no-decision. Duensing is currently pitching for the AAA Rochester Red Wings.

“We are excited to see Nix in the red, white and blue again,” said Paul Seiler, Executive Director/CEO of USA Baseball. “Although it hurts to see the three players go, we know we are adding quality players — including Duensing — who we have seen first-hand get the job done against the best international competition.”

Cummings is 7-3 with a 2.95 ERA and 63 strikeouts for the AAA Durham Bulls. He came to Durham following a stint in Taiwan, giving righty experience on the international stage as well. Schierholtz is competing in Triple-A for the Fresno Grizzlies, carrying a .310 average with 13 home runs and 62 RBI. The left-handed hitter was a member of Team USA at the Futures Game in New York during Major League Baseball’s All-Star weekend.

This four players has experience, include MLB and International.

Schierholtz, hitting .310 with 13 homers and 62 RBI at triple-A Fresno, has the most big-league experience of the four, having hit .304 in 112 at-bats last season. Nix and Duensing, meanwhile, both played for Team USA in last fall’s World Cup, when the U.S. beat Cuba to win its first World Cup in 33 years.

Also back on the team is Texas Rangers prospect Taylor Teagarden. The catcher was among the original selections to the team, but lost his spot over the weekend after being called up to the big leagues. When the Rangers optioned him back to the minors on Monday, he wound up back on the Olympic team.

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

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.

USA Olympic Team to practice at Santa Clara

July 8th, 2008

Acccording to CSTV, USA Olympic Baseball Team will practice at Santa Clara on July 29 and it is FREE and OPEN to the PUBLIC.

South Bay area baseball fans will have a chance to see the USA Olympic Baseball team up close and personal on Tues., July 29 when the USA team practices at Schott Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. The practice is free and open to the public.

Fans may bring items to be signed by the Olympic team at the autograph session immediately following the practice. Fans will be allowed on the field to mingle with USA team coaches and team members during the autograph session.

The team will be arriving at Schott Stadium between 2:30-3:00pm on July 29th. The practice plan will begin with defensive work and then the team will take batting practice.

The USA Baseball Team won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

It’s a good chance to get items to be signed.

Roger Clemens is eliminated from Team USA

April 17th, 2008

From Patrick Mooney of MLB.com, Team USA General manager Bob Watson discuss the Olympic Team.

Approaching what could be the last days of Olympic baseball, Davey Johnson says he would trade one of his three World Series rings for a gold medal.

The self-described Army brat, a manager proud to once again represent his country, won’t be forced to make such a deal just yet. But with the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing looming, there are several complex choices ahead for Team USA.

General manager Bob Watson knows he must strike a delicate balance between the needs of the Olympic team and the 30 Major League franchises that might lend out prospects.

In assembling the team, Watson will look at players outside of a Major League club’s active 25-man roster. From there, an organization’s top two or three prospects — the next men up in a possible pennant race — will also probably be off-limits, Watson said Tuesday at the U.S. Olympic Committee’s media summit in Chicago.

Even so, Watson said, “I still feel our player [No.] 29 is as good or better as everybody else in the world.”

One name Watson has seemingly eliminated from consideration is Roger Clemens.

“He’s not on my radar screen,” Watson, the former general manager of the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, said at the Palmer House Hilton. “Not because of his off-field issues, [but] his last four or five outings in the big league level — it was a real struggle for him physically.

“He took shots in his elbow and he had hamstring and groin issues … I would rather take [a] 28-year-old who’s throwing well and he’s in good physical shape, even though he doesn’t have the numbers and the credentials that Roger would have, but I could depend on him. See, once we go … there’s no replacing him, and I don’t want to play a man short.”

August may mark the final appearance of baseball as an Olympic sport. The International Olympic Committee dropped it from the London Games in 2012, though next year it could be voted back into the 2016 edition.

Watson, now an executive with Major League Baseball, said he thinks the sport could reemerge on the Olympic stage. Watson identified several factors that could prove influential: a good show in 2008; the continued international growth of the game; Major League Baseball’s tougher drug-testing policy; and a creative agreement that would allow the world’s best professional players to participate.

“This is — not in my mind — the last Olympics,” Watson said.

Team USA must submit a provisional 60-man roster 45 days before the first day of competition, with the final 24 players expected to be announced in early July.

It will be Johnson’s job to protect those Major League assets, the power arms that will confront Japan, Cuba and the world. If a pitcher changes his delivery, Johnson promised on Tuesday, he will be taken out. If a young reliever pitches multiple innings, the manager said, he will receive a few days off.

Johnson carries extensive international experience, having managed the Dutch national team in 2004 — he said wearing orange and white to the Opening Ceremony felt strange — as well as the American squad that qualified for the upcoming Olympics at a 2006 tournament in Cuba.

After clinching, the veteran baseball man experienced a bus ride in Havana like no other, full of singing, partying and passing around a jug of rum. The manager is clearly excited for this opportunity.

“It’s one thing having ‘Orioles’ or ‘Mets’ across your chest. It’s another thing when it says ‘USA,’ and you go play against other countries,” Johnson said. “It’s just something in there that tugs at you.”

But even if Johnson pockets a gold medal, he dismissed the idea of parlaying that into another managing job on the big league level.

“My next step would be — go to the beach and wear that around my neck,” Johnson said. “I’ve really taken care of my baseball fix and this is a new pinnacle, really, for my career.”

So for Team USA, how to find out the player they can choose is quite important, due to good prospect could be up to MLB and sometimes team will not let them go, it is quite a challenge to pick players and also play in Beijing.

Tommy Lasorda remember Sydney 2000

September 14th, 2007

Tommy Lasorda celebrate his 80th birthday, and he still remember the Sydney 2000 Olympics, “And who ever could have dreamed that the Olympic baseball team I managed in 2000 in Sydney would beat the so-called unbeatable Cubans”.

You can find it at “MLB.com

Dodgers to celebrate Tommy Lasorda’s 80th birthday with special pregame ceremony
Hall of Fame manager to be honored with Hall of Fame bobblehead tomorrow

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers will celebrate Hall of Fame Manager and Special Advisor to the Chairman Tommy Lasorda’s 80th birthday during a special pregame ceremony tomorrow, September 14. A video montage of Lasorda’s friends and former players will be played on Dodgervision and a cake will be presented to Lasorda at home plate.

“I am so very grateful the Dodgers are honoring my birthday with such a special bobblehead,” said Lasorda. “I hope the fans have a great time and enjoy the celebration.”

While Lasorda’s actual birthday is September 22, the Dodgers will celebrate on September 14 and give away a special Tommy Lasorda Hall of Fame bobblehead doll to the first 50,000 fans in attendance, compliments of FSN Prime Ticket. Lasorda will sign 80 dolls that will be randomly given away as fans come through the turnstiles.

In an effort to pay further tribute to Lasorda’s life in baseball, dodgers.com has constructed a special tribute web page to Lasorda that includes four photo galleries of rare photos of Lasorda throughout his life in baseball and a video of his Hall of Fame induction speech. The photo galleries include pictures that date from 1944 to 2007.

Earlier in the day Lasorda will be honored by the Hollenbeck Youth Center at their 26th Annual Salute to the Dodgers luncheon. Lasorda will receive the Legacy Award for his life-long contributions to the greater Los Angeles community. The luncheon is being held at the Westin Bonaventure.

Also included in the special section on dodgers.com is a collection of stories written about Lasorda by his friends and former players. Contributors include Vin Scully, Joe Garagiola, Mike Scioscia, Steve Garvey, Charlie Hough, Jerry Reuss, Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Rick Monday, Jay Johnstone, Tom Paciorek, Tommy Hutton, Wes Parker, Steve Yeager, Ben Sheets, Bill Dwyre, Charley Steiner and Don Rickles among others.

Lasorda compiled a 1,599-1,439 record and won two World Championships, four National League pennants and eight division titles in an extraordinary 20-year career as the Dodgers’ manager. He ranks 16th with 1,599 wins and 12th with 3,038 games managed in Major League history. His 16 wins in 30 NL Championship Series games managed were the most of any manager at the time of his retirement in 1996.

Lasorda managed an underdog United States Olympic Baseball Team to the Gold Medal at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, just five days after celebrating his 73rd birthday. On Nov. 6, 2000, the Tom Lasorda Heart Institute officially opened at Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, California.

Lasorda posted a 3-1 record as the NL manager in four All-Star Games. He joined St. Louis’ Gabby Street (1930-31) as the only managers in NL history to win league titles in his first two seasons when he led the Dodgers to titles in 1977-78. Lasorda also managed nine of the Dodgers’ 16 Rookies of the Year, more than any other big league skipper in history.

Prior to replacing Hall of Famer Walter Alston as manager on Sept. 29, 1976, Lasorda spent four seasons in Los Angeles on Alston’s coaching staff. He spent eight seasons as a manager in the Dodgers’ minor league system at Pocatello (1965), Ogden (1966-68), Spokane (1969-71) and Albuquerque (1972). Lasorda also spent four years as a Dodger scout after retiring as a player following the 1960 season. An astounding 75 players Lasorda managed in the minor leagues went on to play in the Majors.

And “Long Beach Press Telegram“.

Former Dodger manager Lasorda still as spry as ever as he turns 80

They will be handing out thousands of bobblehead dolls of Tommy Lasorda tonight at Dodger Stadium in commemoration of his upcoming 80th birthday.

But, befitting a career that has not exactly followed the boundaries of convention, the bobblehead will not be the standard one, as it will feature Lasorda holding his Hall of Fame plaque.

It could serve as a metaphoric symbol of the unique odyssey Lasorda has trod throughout his long existence.

“I look back at my life and I’m still in awe of it, still can’t believe how it has turned out,” says Lasorda, who signed with the Dodgers in 1949 and has worked for the organization ever since, except for a brief tour with the Kansas City Athletics in 1956 when he lost all four of his major league decisions.

“Who ever could have dreamed that the son of an Italian immigrant from Norristown, Pennsylvania, who was a third-string pitcher on his high school team his senior year would become the manager of the greatest franchise in Major League Baseball for 20 years?

“Who ever could have dreamed that a guy like me who never stepped foot on a college campus in my younger days would wind up wearing a cap and gown and receiving six honorary doctorate degrees?

Or would meet Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush? Or would travel all over the world, and become good friends with people like Frank Sinatra and Don Rickles. Or would give speeches all over the country, including at all our military academies?

“Who ever could have dreamed that my name would be mentioned right there with Connie Mack, John McGraw and Walter Alston, when it comes to guys who managed one team for such a long period? And who ever could have dreamed that the Olympic baseball team I managed in 2000 in Sydney would beat the so-called unbeatable Cubans?”

There never has been a baseball manager who has shaken more hands, signed more autographs, consumed more tasty meals, uttered more memorable radio sound bites, gone on more diets, created more hoopla and had more fun than Lasorda.

But sometimes almost overlooked in all the blustery hijinks swirling in his orbit – the Slim-Fast diet hysteria, the Jim Healy Show expletives-deleted tapes, the Big Dodger In The Sky spiels, the America’s Dining Guest persona – was the fact that he was one inspirational manager who always was able to dredge the most out of his ball players.

During his lengthy incumbency as the Dodgers’ field commander that started in 1976 and ended in the middle of the 1996 season when he decided to retire after suffering a heart attack, his teams won four National League titles and two World Series titles.

The first one was improbable enough – his 1981 Dodgers came back from an 0-2 deficit against the New York Yankees to win it in six games – but the second one turned out to be even more stunning and climaxed a most memorable season.

That came in 1988 when the Dodgers, a big underdog against a powerful Oakland A’s team, wound up slaying the A’s in five games on the batting heroics of Kirk Gibson, the pitching exploits of Orel Hershiser and the fiery leadership of Lasorda.

But Lasorda will tell you what he was able to achieve in the Sydney Olympics with a bunch of youngsters against the experienced, talented Cubans ranks as his most noble achievement.

“Obviously, it was a great thing when we finally beat the Yankees after they had beaten us in the Series in 1977 and 1978,” says Lasorda. “I remember praying to God and saying, `Please, if we ever get back in the Series, let us face the Yankees.’ And, of course, beating the A’s was very special.

“And I’m quite proud of the fact we had nine Rookie if the Year players when I managed. No team ever has had that many, much less one manager.

“But I’d have to say bringing that baseball gold medal back to the United States at the expense of the Cubans is what makes me the proudest. I think it’s my top achievement in baseball.

“You must understand when the Dodgers win a pennant, San Francisco Giant fans aren’t happy, St. Louis Cardinal fans aren’t happy, Chicago Cub fans aren’t happy. And neither are any of the other fans in the other National League cities. But when we brought that medal back to America, everyone in this country was happy.

“No one thought we could beat the Cubans, but I did. Why couldn’t we? We had good players. They just had to believe in themselves, and they did. Once they got that confidence, there was no stopping us.”

It might be a surprise to some people, but Lasorda didn’t begin his career with the Dodgers. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies when he was a mere 16 in 1944, and even pitched a year later with one of their minor-league teams, the Concord Weavers, before being drafted into the Army.

He did his basic training at Fort McClellan in Alabama, and also was stationed at Fort Mead in Maryland and Fort Jackson in South Carolina.

It turned out service life wasn’t too taxing for Lasorda, who was in charge of athletic activities and played baseball and basketball.

“I actually had a pretty good time in the Army,” he says. “When I was in South Carolina, I was able to play for semi-pro teams in small cities called Camden and Joanna. I made 100 bucks a game when I pitched, and I made some good money.

“I always remember calling my dad, and asking him how much money he would need to refurbish our three-story Norristown home. He said it would take about $4,000 for what he wanted done. I wound up sending him $5,500 from the money I made pitching for those semi-pro teams. I lived on five bucks a week in those days.”

After Pfc. Lasorda left the Army, the young left-hander made such an impression with the Schenectady Blue Jays – he struck out 25 in a 15-inning game – that he was drafted from the Phillies chain by the Brooklyn Dodgers.

He went to the Dodgers’ Vero Beach training camp in 1949, and has never forgotten the experience.

“Here I was at the dining table eating next to people like Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and all the other big Dodger stars,” says Lasorda. “Once again, I just couldn’t believe what was happening to me. These guys were like gods to me, bigger than life. And here I was eating next to them and playing in the same training camp.”

Lasorda would pitch in Greenville, S.C., in 1949, where he would meet his future wife, Jo, whom he’s been married to now for 57 years.

Lasorda was promoted to the Montreal Royals of the Triple-A International League in 1950, and would lead the team to four straight Governors Cup between 1951-54.

Although he proved to be an exceptional minor-league pitcher, Lasorda never made it with the Dodgers, who in those days were overflowing with talented personnel.

He did appear briefly with the team during the 1954 and 1955 seasons – he pitched four games in each without a decision – before being traded to Kansas City.

The A’s dealt Lasorda to the Yankees during the 1956 season, but the Yankees sent Lasorda to the minors and later sold him back to the Dodgers.

Lasorda would finish up his playing career with a brief stay with the Los Angeles Angels of the old Pacific Coast League in 1957 and with a triumphant return to Montreal in 1958, as he would propel the Royals to another title and was named the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher. He wound up 107-57 in his six seasons with the Royals.

He was a scout for the Dodgers between 1961-65 before becoming a manager in the team’s minor-league system, and his work at each venue – Ogden, Pocatello, Spokane and Albuquerque – impressed management enough that he was brought up in 1973 to become Walter Alston’s third base coach.

Lasorda remained in that position until Sept. 29, 1976, when he was named to succeed Alston, who was retiring.

After that, Lasorda would become one of the most famous managers in the history of the sport and would be enshrined in Cooperstown in 1997.

And, even though he soon will be celebrating a milestone birthday – he actually will turn 80 on Sept. 22 – Lasorda has no plans to retire from his current position as special adviser to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.

“No way do I feel 80,” he says. “No way I’m leaving this game. I still can contribute. I still can motivate. I still can evaluate talent. I still like to talk to players and to help them in anyway I can.

“The Dodgers have been utilizing what I’m good at doing, and I’m grateful for that. Grady Little has been wonderful to me, as has Ned Colletti. And the McCourts have just been tremendous.

“I feel good physically. I just got back from Dallas where I was honored at a banquet. It seems like I’m always being honored somewhere. My book `I Live For This’ is coming out this month, and I’ll soon be traveling around the country promoting it. In November, I’m scheduled to speak to the Air Force Academy for the ninth time.

“I’m the most appreciative guy in the world for what has happened to me. I’ll never forget back in 2000 when the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs were opening the season in Tokyo, and I’m seated in Bud Selig’s box. And I get the word that the Crown Prince of Japan, Naruhito, wanted to meet me. Who ever could have dreamed that the crown prince of Japan would want to meet me? And a little later the president of Japan said he also wanted to meet me. I tell you, my life still amazes me.”

U.S., Cuba qualify for 2008 Olympic baseball

September 8th, 2006

People’s Daily Online also write an article about USA and Cuba qualify for 2008 Olympic Baseball in Beijing.

U.S., Cuba qualify for 2008 Olympic baseball

The United States on Wednesday defeated Cuba in the final of the Olympic Baseball Qualifying Tournament held in Cuban capital Havana. Both teams qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games.

The U.S. team beat the Cubans 8-5 thanks to a series of home runs in the late Tuesday competition, giving a taste of their own medicine to the Cuban team which had defeated a long list opponents in the same way.

Tuesday’s loss broke the Cuban team’s run of unbroken wins in the competition.

The U.S. team scored five such home runs in front of the 40,000-strong crowd in the Latinoamericano Stadium, shaming Cuba’s four pitchers.

The U.S.’ Skip Schumacher and Brian La Hair led the batting, put in an impressive performance at the beginning, despite the best efforts of pitcher Ariel Palma. And it was only when 90-mph pitcher Yunieski Maya took over that the U.S. felt any resistance.

The top four teams also win a place in the 2007 Baseball World Championships, and the third- and fourth-placed teams — Mexico and Canada — also secured places in a play-off matches for the Olympics, against play-off teams from the European, Asian, African and Oceania leagues.

The top seven teams, which also include Venezuela, Panama, and Nicaragua, also go through to the 2007 Rio de Janeiro-based Pan American Games.

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