OTTAWA â€” Sluggers Freddie Freeman and Justin Morneau headline the Canadian roster for the 2017 edition of the World Baseball Classic.
Freeman hit 34 homers and drove in 91 runs for the Atlanta Braves last season. Morneau, who has played in all three previous WBC tournaments, won the American League most valuable player award in 2006. The free agent has 247 homers over his big-league career.
Canada’s 28-player roster includes seven other players who played in the major leagues last season. They include Andrew Albers (Twins), John Axford (Athletics), Kevin Chapman (Astros), Jim Henderson (Mets), Adam Loewen (Diamondbacks), Dustin Molleken (Tigers), and Dalton Pompey (Blue Jays).
Also named to the roster were former big leaguers Ryan Dempster, Eric Gagne, George Kottaras, Chris Leroux, Scott Mathieson, Pete Orr, Scott Richmond and Rene Tosoni.
“We’re fortunate to have so many players on our roster with World Baseball Classic experience and international experience on their resumes,” Canadian manager Ernie Whitt said in a release. “International baseball presents a different set of circumstances compared to the regular season so it’s a positive that we have some veteran players who’ve been through it before.”
Notable roster omissions include Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin and Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Michael Saunders.
Canada will compete in Pool C in the first round with Colombia, the U.S., and the defending champion Dominican Republic.
Canada opens against the Dominican Republic on March 9 at Marlins Park in Miami.
The Canadian Press