Eight Twins Agree To Participate In WBC

It's part of Bud Selig's plan to globalize baseball. A competition of the best players from around the world, but no, it's not part of the Olympics. Instead, the World Baseball Classic looks to bring the best and brightest together in one competition, just prior to the Major League season getting under way. If invited, eight Twins could represent their country.

The Minnesota Twins are sending eight players to the World Baseball Classic, a number eclipsed by only the Baltimore Orioles. One of the more successful teams of the last five years, the number of Twins is a testament to the entire organization. Players from the Twins will be representing, if invited, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Australia. If all are invited, these are the players, and who they will be representing.

Representing the United States is Joe Mauer, the Twins' young, slugging catcher. Mauer led the Twins in batting average in 2005, posting a .294 average, and is one of the brightest stars in the organization. He joins Boston's Jason Varitek, and the Cubs' Michael Barrett as the teams' three catchers.

Representing Canada is relief pitcher Jesse Crain, and first baseman Justin Morneau. Crain, who could be dealt by the Twins this off-season, has turned himself into one of the top set-up men in the American League. Morneau, who led the team with 79 RBI in 2005, also set a career-high with 22 home runs.

Juan Castro, who made played his first season in Minnesota this past season, will be the only Twins' representative on the Mexico team. Castro, who tied his career high with 33 RBI, was used mostly as a utility infielder in 2005. Minnesota is the third stop for the 33-year old infielder, and should serve as a utility infielder in 2006.

J.C. Romero, who has been rumored in almost every big trade the Twins could make this Winter, will be representing Puerto Rico. He was third on the team in games with 68, and posted a sub-4.00 ERA for the second straight season.

Two of the Twins starting pitchers from 2005 will be representing Venezuela in the Classic, Cy Young Winner Johan Santana, and right-hander Carlos Silva. Santana, the 2004 Cy Young Winner with 36 wins in the past two seasons, will be the anchor of the Venezuelan pitching staff. Silva, who allowed only nine walks all season in 27 starts, could be the team's fifth starter for the Classic.

Rounding out the Twins' representatives is Glenn Williams, who will be a member of the Australian team. Williams, who was one of the best stories of the 2005 season, used his call-up to string together an improbable 13-game hitting streak. He got at least one base hit in every game he played in, and was batting .425 before an injury cut down his season.

Sixty-man rosters must be set by January 17, with the final 30-man roster set the day before the tournament starts. This is the inaugural tournament, and will run from March 3-20. It is a 16-team tournament, and is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation.

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