WBC has Cougar connection

By on March 5, 2009

Last Tuesday’s announcement of final rosters for the upcoming World Baseball Classic includes four former Kane County Cougars players, as well as a current field staff member.

Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera, a Cougar from the Midwest League championship team of 2001, will join Tigers teammates such as Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen in representing Venezuela. One of Cabrera’s infield partners at Elfstrom Stadium in ’01, Adrian Gonzalez will miss a portion of San Diego spring training to don the Mexican team jersey. The Dominican Republic team, one of the heavy favorites to win the tournament, will include outfielder Nelson Cruz, a Kane County alumnus from 2003. Cruz, who has reached the big leagues with Texas, will share a locker room with fellow Dominican Republic teammates Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz.

Team Australia will also have Cougars ties with the selection of Brett Roneberg to their national squad. Roneberg was a member of the Cougars during the 1998 and ’99 seasons. Finally, current Cougars athletic trainer Nate Brooks will serve in the same role for the South African team. Former Cougars pitchers Scott Mitchinson (Australia) and Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic) were originally part of their respective country’s provisional rosters, but were not chosen for the final roster.

First-round play kicks off at several venues beginning in early March, including the Tokyo Dome from March 5-8; Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from March 7-11; and Toronto’s Rogers Centre and Foro Sol Stadium in Mexico City from March 8-12.

The second round is at San Diego’s PETCO Park and Miami’s Dolphin Stadium, with the games being played in those venues from March 14-19.

Dodger Stadium will host the semifinals and finals from March 21-23. Japan defeated Cuba to take home the first Classic championship.