Team USA Has CWS Flavor
Three pitchers and five position players that participated in the College World Series last month are now members of the 22-man roster of the 2005 USA Baseball National Team, which was selected on July 1. The roster was announced after four days of trials in which 39 players participated at Doak Field on the campus of North Carolina State.
|Florida's Matt LaPorta high-fives teammate Chris Woods after a home run in the CWS. (AP)|
Florida leads the way with three Team USA selections - sophomore catcher Brian Jeroloman, sophomore infielder Adam Davis and sophomore first baseman Matt LaPorta - while Texas boasts the duo of sophomore outfielder Drew Stubbs and sophomore right-hander Kyle McCulloch.
"The past couple weeks have been a lot of time on the road, in and out of planes; I guess it's going to be that way for the rest of the summer," said Drew Stubbs. "It's going to be a lot of fun, but at the same time I'm sure it's going to be very tiring. This is an experience that we're going to treasure for ever."
Two Oregon State players were also chosen to the National Team - sophomore right-hander Jonah Nickerson and sophomore left-hander Kevin Gunderson - as well as Tennessee freshman catcher J.P. Arencibia.
"Coming from high school it's definitely a different experience in college baseball," said Kevin Gunderson. "You start the fall in September and go all the way to June, and then you turn around and go right to summer ball and play until August. It's a grueling schedule, but if you want to make it to the next level you have to keep doing it. This is a fun experience for us. It's a privilege to play for Team USA, and I guess it's just time to suck it up for another month if you're tired - represent your country, represent your school and everybody that's watching you."
Steve Smith, who led his Baylor Bears to the CWS for the first time since 1978, is also the head coach of the Team USA.
In addition to the eight players already mentioned, 13 of the 14 roster members participated in the 2005 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament.
"This is going to be very beneficial (in preparation for professional baseball)," said Matt LaPorta. "This is such a hands-on experience, and you can't replace that. In minor league ball, we probably won't be treated as well as we are here."
Pitcher Ian Kennedy (Southern California, So., Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Stubbs are the only two returning players to Team USA.
Five players complete the team's pitching staff -- right-hander Mark Melancon (Arizona, So., Golden, Colo.), right-hander Chris Perez (Miami-FL, So., Holmes Beach, Fla.), right-hander Max Scherzer (Missouri, So., Chesterfield, Mo.), left-hander David Price (Vanderbilt, Fr., Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and left-hander Joe Savery (Rice, Fr., Bellaire, Texas).
The remainder of the roster is as follows: infielder Blake Davis (Cal State Fullerton, So., Fountain Valley, Calif.), infielder Wes Hodges (Georgia Tech, So., Ooltewah, Tenn.), infielder Josh Rodriguez (Rice, So., Houston, Texas), outfielder John Jay (Miami-FL, So., Miami, Fla.), outfielder Hunter Mense (Missouri, So., Liberty, Mo.), outfielder Shane Robinson (Florida State, So., Tampa, Fla.), and utility players Sean Doolittle (Virginia, Fr., Tabernacle, N.J.) and Matt Wieters (Georgia Tech, Fr., Goose Creek, S.C.).
Team USA will start its season on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Torrington Twisters at Fuessinich Park in Torrington, Conn. They will also travel to Japan for the 34th annual USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series, as well as playing a five-game series in Taiwan. The team will also host Italy and Nicaragua later in the summer.