Tigers World Baseball Classic Preview

The Tigers have an impressive fourteen players that are likely headed to the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Who will be playing and for who? Get the wrap up here, with just one week until the competition gets under way. Note: The following players have worked out with the club and have agreed to participate, but won't necessarily be on the team.

The Tigers lone member of the favorite USA club will be recent addition Todd Jones, who is the Tigers new (and former) closer. Jones has commented that he's not sure how ready he'll be for the Classic, as it starts heavy competition a month earlier than usual, but he's nevertheless ready to wait in the USA ‘pen for whenever he gets the call.

Surprisingly, the Tigers have three players on the Italian club; shortstop Tony Giarratano, and pitchers Jason Grilli and Matt Mantei. None of the players were actually born in Italy, but because of heritage rules, all are eligible for the team. Luckily for the Tigers, none of the three are locks to be major contributors to the club in 2006, and Giarratano is likely already out of the competition for a big league job. Nevertheless, the trio will hope to get the opportunity to compete on the world stage.

The Tigers Venezuelan contingent is the most on the team, with the Tigers likely sending four players to the WBC for Venezuela. Carlos Guillen appears ready to move to first base for the team, while Magglio Ordonez is making sure he's 100% before he commits to playing for the team. The other members are Wilfredo Ledezma and Omar Infante, who are both anxious to represent their native country in the competition if chosen. It should be noted that Venezuelans are looking at the World Baseball Classic much like many Europeans view the World Cup – it will be one of the biggest events for the country in many years with the whole nation following the proceedings.

Puerto Rico will have a pair of Tigers as well; Ivan Rodriguez is excited to represent his native land as the team's starting catcher. Rodriguez might be catching a Tiger non-roster invitee; Hector Mercado. Rodriguez of course will be one of the featured members in the Classic as a huge star both in the United States and internationally.

The Dominican is another nation that loves its baseball, and will have a pair of Tigers on the roster as well. Second baseman Placido Polanco will be representing the Dominican, as will reliever Fernando Rodney. Both Polanco and Rodney hope to be able to represent their native country in the Classic.

Finally, the Tigers have a pair of minor league catchers that have a shot to represent Canada in the WBC. Maxim St. Pierre is a native, being born in Quebec, while Chris Robinson is a US-born player who qualifies for the Canadian much like those on the Italian club do. The Canadian team only has one other catcher available to play, so it's likely at least one of the Tigers catchers will be getting some work in for the Canucks.

Regardless of fans' initial feelings about the World Baseball Classic, it certainly should be interesting to see all the greats of major league baseball competing for their native country.

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