It's kind of funny because I was on Team USA in 2003 when the U.S. lost to Mexico in the Olympic qualifying tournament and Canada went on to qualify, so I know from first-hand experience that the Canadians can field a highly competitive team for international play. They did well in Olympic qualifying, they did well in the Olympics (fourth place) and, hopefully we'll do well in the World Baseball Classic, too.
I'm really looking forward to it and it should be a lot of fun. Justin and Corey Koskie are the only guys I've played with before, but I know Adam Stern and I have mutual friends with Jeff Francis, so I'm looking forward to playing with those guys, too.
Looking at the roster, it seems like we have a strong mix of veterans like Corey and Matt Stairs to go along with the younger players. I grew up in Boulder, Colo., watching Larry Walker play for the Rockies, but I've never met him before, so I'm definitely looking forward to meeting him. I wouldn't have minded having his bat in the lineup, either, but I was excited to hear he would be one of our coaches.
I haven't altered my spring routine very much to get ready for the tournament. I threw about once a week during the offseason to keep things loose and I didn't begin throwing every day until Jan. 7. But I came down here to Fort Myers about 10 days early to be in the warm weather and I've thrown maybe a bullpen or two more than I would normally have thrown by this point in the spring.
But I've always started throwing late and that's seemed to work well for me. I'm trying to keep in mind that I've got a long season ahead of me, too.
So I threw against live hitting for the first time yesterday and I'll pitch in a game on Wednesday (March 1) before heading up to Dunedin, Fla., to join Team Canada. We'll have three days in Dunedin before heading to Phoenix. Then we'll have a practice there before the first round begins.
I'm honored to be asked to play with these guys knowing how well these guys have competed in international competition.
Jesse Crain was 12-5 with a 2.71 ERA over 79 2/3 innings and held opposing hitters to a .219 average for the Twins in 2005, his first full season in the Majors.
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