SAN FRANCISCO – Here’s a hint that the World Baseball Classic this year will be more than an international exhibition meant to trot out All-Stars:
All three of the Giants left-handed relievers’ were named to provisional rosters on Thursday.
Yes, these teams are constructing their rosters to win. Jeremy Affeldt (USA), Javier Lopez (Puerto Rico) and Jose Mijares (Venezuela) will be used to defuse a dangerous left-handed hitter in late-game situations. Right-handers Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic) and Sergio Romo (Mexico) are on rosters as well, meaning almost the entire Giants bullpen will be leaving training camp on March 4 to join their countrymen. (And if there were a Team Greece in the field, you can bet George Kontos would be on board, too.)
Center fielder Angel Pagan (Puerto Rico) and stalwart postseason starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (USA) also will participate.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, was that second baseman Marco Scutaro was listed on the Venezuela roster. Scutaro, 36, joked last month that he’d need half of spring training just to wake up and wouldn’t participate in the WBC. But Giants vice president Bobby Evans said the rosters were made public only after WBC club officials secured participation paperwork from all players – meaning Scutaro must’ve had a change of heart.
As a result, Venezuela will have the reigning NLCS MVP as well as third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the reigning World Series MVP.
Sandoval is not well enough to play at the moment, though. His brother, Michael, reported on Twitter that Sandoval has been hospitalized in Venezuela with unspecified abdominal pain, with an initial diagnosis of colitis. Sandoval was expected to return to Magallanes, his team in the Venezuelan winter league, in another day or two.
A few other members of the Giants organization will take part in the WBC. Giants minor league catcher Tyler LaTorre is playing for Team Italy and Clayton Tanner, a left-hander and former Giants top prospect from Walnut Creek, is on the Australian team’s roster. Tanner was born outside Melbourne.
Finally, the Giants will lose two coaches who will take part in the tournament. Hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens, a native of Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles, will coach for the Dutch team. And roving minor league infield instructor Jose Alguacil will assist Team Spain.
You might assume Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti should make a call and see if the Italian team can use some help, since so many of his pitchers will be leaving camp. But the Giants prepared for that contingency and packed their clubhouse with minor league invitees. There will be more than 35 pitchers in camp when they report to Scottsdale on Feb. 12.