Players for the World Baseball Classic began working out for their countries on Monday, and playing exhibition games on Tuesday. After Joe Nathan's decision not to participate, the Minnesota Twins now have five players from major league camp involved in the event—Jesse Crain, Justin Monreau, Luis Ayala, Nick Punto, and Luke Hughes.
Thus far, the players have fared pretty well both on the field, in the batter's box, and on the mound.
Some early observations:
- Justin Morneau has had an RBI in each of Canada's first three games. In game one Morneau went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI, in game two he went 0-for-2 with a walk and an RBI, and in the most recent game, Morneau went 0-for-3 with yet another walk and RBI.
- Jesse Crain joins Morneau on the Canadian team and thus far has pitched in games one and three. Crain has pitched a total of two innings and has allowed just a hit while striking out three in the two total innings.
- Another reliever that the Twins hope they can rely on in '09, Luis Ayala, is participatining the event. Ayala has appeared in one game for Mexico and pitched an inning while allowing one hit and striking out one.
- Nick Punto is the starting shortstop for team Italy, and thus far has played in three games. Overall Punto has gone 3-for-11 in those three games with a walk and an RBI. The Twins would likely be content with the .272 average Punto currently sports if he could maintain it for an entire season as the starting shortstop in Minnesota.
- Luke Hughes, the final Major League player in the WBC from the organization, has played in each of Australia's first two games, and done extremely well at the plate. Overall Hughes has gone 4-for-8 with two doubles. On the down side, all four times that Hughes has been retired, he has struck out.
- Another player for Australia is the newly signed Justin Huber. The Twins recently signed Huber, and thus far he has been dominant. Huber is 5-for-8 with a double, a homerun and four RBI. Who knows, maybe this guy could make an impact in '09.
The real games will begin shortly, but these exhibition games are nothing to laugh at. The players have faced Major League pitching and hitting.