Clemens, Bonds on provisional U.S. roster for Classic
NEW YORK --- Alex Rodriguez was missing from the initial U.S. roster for the World Baseball Classic that was released Monday night, and the two-time MVP had one day left to decide whether to participate.
Clemens went 13-8 for National League champion Houston last season and led the majors with a 1.87 ERA in 211 1/3 innings. However, Clemens is a free agent and has said that he is unsure whether he will retire or play again next season.
"I'm excited about it because I never had the opportunity to do the Olympics," said Clemens, who ranks ninth on the all-time list with 341 career wins.
Provisional rosters of up to 60 players for each country are due at 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, and the final 30-man rosters for the tournament will be chosen from those 60-player pools.
Any player not on a provisional roster Tuesday cannot participate in the event, so Rodriguez was running out of time to decide which country to play for -- or whether to play at all.
The New York Yankees third baseman, eligible to play for the United States and the Dominican Republic, said last month that he intended to play for the Dominican team, then said he wouldn't play at all because he didn't want to offend either country.
Gene Orza, the No. 2 official of the players' association, said he would attempt to persuade Rodriguez to play, and baseball officials and the union held a conference call with him early last week.
Team USA manager Buck Martinez said Monday night he still had no feel for what Rodriguez planned to do.
"I think it's a tough decision for him and we understand that. I don't envy him having to choose," Martinez said during a phone interview. "He's torn."
Plenty of other stars have signed on for Team USA: Lance Berkman, Johnny Damon, Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson, Chipper Jones, Derrek Lee, Brad Lidge, Andy Pettitte, Mark Teixeira, Billy Wagner and Dontrelle Willis were all included on the initial roster.
"I think the one thing that we have is balance," Martinez said. "You look at the bullpen, that might be the strongest asset on this team. I think that's a huge asset, especially in a format like this."
Without Rodriguez, the U.S. lineup could look like this:
The depth of the U.S. staff will be important since pitchers will be held to an undetermined but strict pitch count in the tournament.
Bonds missed virtually all of last season with a knee injury but expects to be healthy for the event and the start of the regular season.
"He was very excited," U.S. manager Buck Martinez said. "Anybody that can have his bat in the lineup [will benefit]. He's a game-changer and a good guy to have on your lineup, no doubt about it."
All players will be tested under the Olympic drug policy, although a positive test during the Classic will not count under baseball's new substance-abuse policy.
The teams in the Classic will be divided into four pools and feature round-robin play in each of the first two rounds. From March 3-6, Japan will host the opening round in Pool A, which also includes Korea, China and Chinese Taipei.
The top two finishers will travel to the United States for the second round to face the qualifiers from Pool B, which includes Team USA, beginning March 13.
Pool B also consists of Canada, Mexico and South Africa and will be held in Arizona.
Puerto Rico will host Pool C, which also includes teams from the Netherlands and Panama. Cuba also is scheduled to compete in Pool C, although its status is still up in the air.
The U.S. government has banned the Cubans from participating, citing an embargo on the communist nation. However, Major League Baseball and the Players Association have petitioned to include Cuba, which boasts many major league players.
Pool D will be occupied by Australia, the Dominican Republic, Italy and Venezuela and play in Florida.
The top two teams from each second-round pool advance to the single-elimination semifinals and finals, which will be held at Petco Park in San Diego from March 18-20.
The WBC will be held again in 2009 and every four years thereafter.
Material from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.
World Baseball Classic
WHAT: A 16-team international tournament divided into four pools of four teams each
WHEN: March 3-20, 2006
WHERE: U.S., Puerto Rico, Japan
World Baseball Classic at a glance
|Dominican Republic||South Africa|
• Jan. 23: Bonds says he won't play
• Jan. 20: Cuba allowed in
• Jan. 18: Provisional rosters are announced
• Jan. 17: A-Rod plans to play for U.S.
• Jan. 16: U.S. names provisional roster
• Jan. 14: Canada names 23 to roster
• Jan. 14: Nomar to play for Mexico
• Jan. 11: Lasorda expects Cuba to play
• Jan. 10: Marlins' Cabrera to play for Venezuela
• Jan. 10: Smoltz not likely to pitch for U.S.
• Jan. 9: Italian team to train with Tigers
• Jan. 6: Report: Iguchi, Buehrle to skip WBC
• Jan. 6: IBAF threat: No Cuba, no Classic
• Jan. 4: Report: A-Rod to play for U.S.
• Dec. 28: Venezuela wants Cuba in Classic
• Dec. 27: Matsui won't play for Japan in March
• Dec. 23: Cuba offers to donate Classic money
• Dec. 22: MLB denies Cuban exiles
• Dec. 22: Astros assistant to manage Italy
• Dec. 15: A-Rod will sit out Classic
• Dec. 14: Treasury: Cuba can't send players
• Dec. 14: Matsui promises to decide soon
• Dec. 13: A-Rod leaning toward Dominican team
• Dec. 13: Griffey ready to play
• Dec. 11: Yankees deny Posada
• Dec. 3: Pedro, Tejada hope to play
• Dec. 3: Garcia pitching for Venezuela
• Dec. 2: Report: Castro says Cuba will play
• Nov. 30: Bonds to play for U.S.
• Nov. 28: Whitt to manage Canada
• Nov. 22: U.S., Canada to play exhibitions
• Nov. 14: Arizona to host WBC games
• Nov. 14: Livan Hernandez can play for PR
• Nov. 12: Dontrelle to hurl for U.S.
• Nov. 10: Delgado suiting up for PR
• Sept. 28: San Diego hosting WBC
• Sept. 16: Japan agrees to participate
• July 14: A-Rod to play for DR
• July 13: No WBC for Sheffield
• July 11: WBC groups unveiled