CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 2: Catcher Brian McCann #16 of the USA World Baseball Classic team fields a throw from third base during a practice March 2, 2009 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Jim Leyland, retired manager of the Detroit Tigers, has been appointed to take the helm of Team U.S.A. in the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC). Team U.S.A., yet to win the international tournament, is in the infancy of its assembly. Frankly, all it has in place is a manager. Leyland, eager to begin the recruitment process, is waiting for permission to reach out to players. Brian McCann, Brian McAmerica, is apparently on the short list. He told MLB.com: “You want guys that want to be there”.
In regards to playing in the WBC, there are many challenges that face professional players. Of course, their health and playing in the Major League Baseball season is most important. Most players have a fear of sustaining a serious and/or irreparable injury during the tournament. To this, Leyland responded: “I guarantee all the teams and all the players that do decide to play that we’re going to take very good care of them. We are going to do everything we can to keep them healthy. We are going to do everything we can to send them back [to their professional teams] healthy” (MLB.com).
Others players are quite conflicted about which team for which to play. Un siciliano with strong roots, Chicago Cubs All-Star Anthony Rizzo opted to represent la squadra d’italia in the 2013 WBC.
Following the same format as Joe Torre’s 2013 WBC team, MLB.com and ESPN.com ran a mock “draft”.
In fact, this lineup format seems to be valid, as Torre and Leyland have already collaborated: “I’ve talked to Joe a lot because he was one of the guys that reached out to me about managing the team”. In the mock draft, Yankees catcher Brian McCann was selected as one of the three catchers. According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, “McCann provides power, a left-handed bat and WBC experience from 2009”. Below is McCann’s line from the 2009 Tournament, where he led the team in doubles:
Clearly, the numbers indicate he had a strong performance. That, coupled with his prior tournament experience makes him a prime candidate for the 2017 WBC, should he be willing to play. Brian McAmerica would be an optimal selection at catcher for a highly competitive Team U.S.A.
Leyland said, “Hopefully, we’ll get the right people on board… and go forward with a very representative team” (MLB.com). With details yet to be released, fans can expect the tournament to begin in early spring of 2017, most likely in March.