Thursday, June 21, 2018
Sports

U.S. tries new look for WBC

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Baseball was invented in the United States, but the World Baseball Classic has been dominated by Japan.

U.S. manager Joe Torre has taken a different approach in the WBC's third edition this year. Rather than stock his entire roster with high-profile stars, he's got a basic starting nine with utility players, three catchers and 15 pitchers filling out the 28-man group.

"I think it's advantageous. I think you need role players," said Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun, who was part of the 2009 team that made it to the semifinals. "You look at regular teams throughout the course of the season, those role players are instrumental in teams finding a way to win games. It's certainly important to have versatility."

The Americans went through their only pre-tournament workout Monday, a light two-hour session at Salt River Fields, the spring training home of Arizona and Colorado.

They have exhibition against the White Sox and Rockies before their opener Friday against Mexico at Chase Field, which could draw an enthusiastic and not necessarily pro-U.S. crowd.

Although the team includes Braun, Mets third baseman David Wright and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Torre chose only one player at each infield position.

Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins is at shortstop and Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips will play second. Their backups are Arizona's Willie Bloomquist and the Rays' Ben Zobrist, with Twins catcher Joe Mauer expected to fill in some at first base as well as at DH. The outfielders are Braun, Baltimore's Adam Jones and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton, with Boston's Shane Victorino another option.

The other catchers are Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy and Toronto's J.P. Arencibia, who gets to catch knuckleballer R.A. Dickey — his new Blue Jays teammate — in Friday night's opener.

Under pitch-count rules, starters can't throw more than 65 pitches in opening round games.

The Americans' group includes Canada and Italy. After round-robin play concludes with the Canada-U.S. game Sunday, the top two nations advance to the second round in Florida. The semifinals and finals will be held the next week in San Francisco.

Texiera called the competition "an exhibition."

"While we want to win. The important thing is to put on a great tournament for everyone to enjoy it, for the fans to enjoy it," he said. "It doesn't mean we don't want to win it."

VOTTO JOINS CANADIAN TEAM: Reds first baseman Joey Votto will play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, pleased with the way his knee has handled the first two weeks of spring training. Votto got the last spot on Canada's team but wanted to waited to see how his surgically repaired left knee felt before making a commitment. Also, Team Canada lost White Sox right-handed reliever Jesse Crain, who has a strained adductor muscle.

MORE WBC: Seung Song allowed two hits in four innings and South Korea beat Australia 6-0 in Group B in Taipei, Taiwan. … Jose Abreu hit a grand slam to help Cuba clobber China 12-0 in Fukuoka, Japan, and ensure it would reach the second round.

CARDINALS: Shortstop Rafael Furcal plans to get a second opinion on his ailing right elbow from noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday.

INDIANS: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco was hit in the side of the head by a comebacker in the first inning but stayed in and pitched three innings against the Cubs.

METS: Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis is day to day with a bone bruise in his left knee.

RED SOX: DH David Ortiz felt good running the bases as he tries to come back from the injured right Achilles that cut short his 2012 season. Ortiz has yet to run on back-to-back days this spring.

WHITE SOX: Left-hander John Danks gave up a run in two-plus innings against the Giants in his first outing since May. Danks made nine starts last season before having season-ending surgery on his pitching shoulder Aug. 6.

Comments
Rick Stroud weighs in on report about possible Jameis Winston suspension

Rick Stroud weighs in on report about possible Jameis Winston suspension

Tampa Bay Times beat reporter Rick Stroud isn't buying an ESPN radio report that any suspension levied against Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston by the NFL would stem from Winston's failure to report an alleged incident between him and a female Ub...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

ST. PETERSBURG — Missing all of 2017 might have been the absolute worst thing for Matt Duffy.Frustratingly idled as he eventually recovered and rehabbed from ongoing left heel issues, he couldn't play the game he loved, couldn't show the Rays o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay Times’ all-North Suncoast girls basketball team

Tampa Bay Times’ all-North Suncoast girls basketball team

North Suncoast Player of the Year: India Lewis, Sr., FivayFirst teamG Jayde Doucette, Sr., River RidgeG Reagan Huden, Sr., SpringsteadF Andrea Wallace, Sr., SunlakeG/F Ices Utegg, So., River RidgeF/C Seytia Hill, Jr., Weeki WacheeSecond teamG Lyndsey...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When will we know about possible Jameis Winston suspension?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When will we know about possible Jameis Winston suspension?

Rick Stroud talks about when we will know about a possible Jameis Winston suspension and why DeSean Jackson hasn't been more productive with the Bucs on today's podcast.Plus, who might the Rays trade next? Will the Lightning make any b...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Tampa Bay Times’ all-Hillsborough County girls basketball team

Tampa Bay Times’ all-Hillsborough County girls basketball team

Player of the Year: Kaliah Henderson, Jr., RobinsonFirst teamG Brylee Bartram, Jr., Seffner ChristianG Jacquelyn LeVay, Sr., AlonsoF/G Tarriyonna Gary, So., Carrollwood DayF Tiasia McMillan, So., Carrollwood DayC Kendal Cheesman, Fr., PlantSecond tea...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox Sr. was watching the NFL draft 24 years ago when the phone rang. Buffalo coach Marv Levy was on the other line."Marv said they were taking me," said Knox Sr., a standout receiver at FSU.Soon after, Knox Sr. saw his name scroll across ESPN'...
Published: 06/20/18
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final last season, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman ...
Published: 06/20/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Published: 06/20/18