With 13 players in WBC, Twins take lead role on world stage

Manager Ron Gardenhire is losing former MVPs, a batting title winner, starting players, role players, top prospects and players fighting for jobs to the World Baseball Classic.

view larger photos

  

FORT MYERS, FLA. - It's an event still trying to gain traction. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire refers to it as the "world games.''

It's actually the World Baseball Classic (WBC). The third WBC begins this weekend and, whether they like it or not, the Twins are playing a leading role. By the end of the weekend, the Twins will lose 13 players to national teams, tying them with Milwaukee for the most players from one organization in the WBC.

Gardenhire is losing former MVPs, a batting title winner, starting players, role players, top prospects and players fighting for jobs. The Twins can adjust because they have 67 players in camp. And Gardenhire won't get in the way of someone like Justin Morneau, who is passionate about being part of Team Canada.

"We sit there and say, 'This is kind of scary. Would I rather have him here?' Yes, I would,'' Gardenhire said, "but I also know that you don't get many opportunities in your lifetime to do things like this, represent your country.''

Because of injuries, Joe Mauer missed the first two WBCs. But his involvement with Team USA goes back to when he made the U18 team as a 16-year old. Being part of Team USA has allowed Mauer to travel to tournaments in Taiwan, Panama, Mexico and, before he was a major leaguer, Canada.

Now healthy, Mauer raised his hand for national team duty last September.

"I'm very familiar with the organization and the things they do,'' Mauer said. "I realize how special it is to put that jersey on. I know what it's about.''

The toughest part for Mauer is missing time getting to know several new pitchers who are expected to be part of the staff.

"I would like to stay and get to know these guys even better,'' Mauer said, "but we'll have time before the beginning of the season.''

Catcher Drew Butera and outfielder Darin Mastroianni both were wanted by Italy. Butera, whose spot on the Twins roster is not guaranteed, is playing. Mastroianni, who is trying to win the starting center field job, is staying.

Butera hopes to head north for a fourth straight season, but the Twins might decide to add offense to their bench. Butera understands what he might be risking by leaving the club.

"It's a prestigious event,'' Butera said. "It kind of puts a unique twist on baseball, to be able to play for a different cause. It's going to be a fun event.''

Mastroianni would have been a lock to start for the Italian team -- two of the other outfielders on the squad are from a pro league in Italy. But he decided early in the offseason -- before Denard Span and Ben Revere were traded -- that there would be too much riding on this spring training camp for him to leave.

"In the future, I would love to do it,'' he said, "but right now this is my first real opportunity to break camp with the team, and I felt like I should be here.''

The WBC has been great for Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario, who have opened eyes with their talent over the last week and have shown why they are among the top 10 prospects in the Twins organization. They were not invited to camp originally but were added in order for them to prepare for the tournament.

Berrios, an 18-year-old righthander, has shown a good fastball, an above-average curve and a willingness to pitch inside. He retired all six batters he faced on Thursday in a B game against Boston.

Rosario, an outfielder-turned-second baseman, is 5-for-9 in spring games, including an impressive home run on Tuesday in Dunedin. "He wouldn't have this attention if it was the regular season,'' Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said.

If there's a WBC game being played over the next few weeks, there's a good chance that someone on the field will be from the Twins organization.

"Every one of these guys that are leaving is going to have that country on their shirt,'' Gardenhire said. "They ought to be happy with that. I wish I would have been able to do that. I just wasn't good enough. I couldn't play for Oklahoma. I couldn't play for Okmulgee.''

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets - B. Colon 6:05 PM
Washington - T. Roark
Baltimore - U. Jimenez 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - B. McCarthy
Kansas City - Y. Ventura 6:05 PM
Cleveland - D. Salazar
Seattle - F. Hernandez 6:07 PM
Toronto - R. Dickey
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Price
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 6:10 PM
Miami - H. Alvarez
Pittsburgh - G. Cole 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - J. Cueto
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb 6:10 PM
Boston - C. Buchholz
Houston - B. Oberholtzer 7:05 PM
Texas - N. Martinez
St. Louis - S. Miller 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
Arizona - A. Chafin 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Gibson
LA Angels - W. LeBlanc 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Colorado - J. De La Rosa 9:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New England 9/29/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Carolina 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
Columbus
Boston 6:30 PM
Montreal
Nashville 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Toronto
Detroit 7:30 PM
Chicago
San Jose 8:00 PM
Vancouver
Arizona 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Vancouver 9:30 PM
San Jose
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Time left for great deals

Bid thru Sept. 29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which struggling team is in the worst shape?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close