Eight players to represent Pirates in Classic
Wandy, Grilli, Martin, Leroux and Taillon headline Bucs' global squad
The Pirates will be well represented in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, with eight players scattered among six international rosters as announced on Thursday for the global tournament.
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Leading the Bucs' contingent are left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic, closer Jason Grilli of Italy and catcher Russell Martin of Canada -- the only country to include more than one Pittsburgh player. Right-handers Chris Leroux and Jameson Taillon are also on the Canucks' provisional roster.Taillon -- the first-round 2010 Draft pick who earlier in the day received an invitation by the Pirates to his first Major League Spring Training camp -- is a Texas native, but both of his parents were born in the Toronto area, making him eligible to represent Canada.
Two newcomers to the organization -- catcher Ali Solis and infielder Ivan De Jesus -- are on the rosters of Mexico and Puerto Rico, respectively.Shortstop Stefan Welch will suit up for his native Australia. Solis was acquired in October on waivers from the Padres and, oddly, will share Mexico's catching duties with Rod Barajas, the Pirates' primary catcher in 2012 who remains unsigned on the free-agent market. De Jesus was part of the four-player package acquired last month from Boston in the deal that sent closer Joel Hanrahan and infielder Brock Holt to the Red Sox. The 25-year-old infielder is fresh off a batting title in the Puerto Rican Winter League, where he batted .364 with Manati. Compared to the most recent Classic, the quantity of participating Pirates is down, but the quality definitely trends up. In 2009, the Pirates had a dozen organizational players involved, but the only established big leaguer among them was right-handed starter Ian Snell. By contrast, Rodriguez is locked in as the No. 2 starter on the Pirates' 2013 rotation, Martin is the team's key offseason addition, Grilli succeeds Hanrahan as the closer, Leroux will compete for a role in the bullpen and De Jesus could be a key component of a bench which last season lacked experience.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.