At least two members of Team USA will feel right at home when practice for the squad begins at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale on March 1. Infielder Willie Bloomquist and relief pitcher Heath Bell of the Diamondbacks are part of the USA roster for the World Baseball Classic that was announced today.
Bloomquist, who also stared at ASU, batted .302 in 80 games with Arizona last season. Bloomquist has played every position except for catcher during his 11-year career. The 35-year old was drafted in the third round of the 1999 amateur draft by the Seattle Mariners. He broke into the big leagues in 2002 and spent seven seasons with Seattle before signing as a free agent with the Kansas City Royals in 2009. Bloomquist had a brief stop in Cincinnati with the Reds in 2010 before signing with the Diamondbacks prior to the 2011 season. He became the first former Sun Devil to play for the hometown Diamondbacks.
While Heath Bell is a member of the Diamondbacks roster, he hasn’t yet thrown a pitch for Arizona. Bell came to the Diamondbacks from the Miami Marlins on October 20 as part of a three team trade that Chris Young to the Oakland Athletics. Bell, also 35, signed with the New York Mets as an undrafted free agent in 1998. He made his big league debut in 2004 and was traded to the San Diego Padres in 2006. Bell was a workhorse reliever for the Padres in 2007 and 2008 before becoming the team’s closer in 2009. That year he led the National League with 42 saves. He followed that up with seasons of 47 and 43 saves. Following the 2011 season Bell signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Miami Marlins. Bell struggled with a 5.09 ERA and just 19 saves in 73 games for Miami last season.
Team USA plays its first tournament game on March 8 against Mexico at Chase Field. They take on Italy on March 9 and Canada on March 10. Tickets for the Chase Field pool are on sale now. Single game tickets go on sale on January 26.
2013 Team USA Roster:
Mark Teixera (NYY); Brandon Phillips (CIN); Jimmy Rollins (PHI); David Wright (NYM); Joe Mauer (MIN); Ryan Braun (MIL); Adam Jones (BAL); Giancarlo Stanton (MIA); Ben Zobrist (TB); Willie Bloomquist (ARI); Shane Victorino (BOS); Jonathan Lucroy (MIL); J.P. Arenciba (TOR); R.A. Dickey (TOR); Ryan Vogelsong (SF); Derek Holland (TEX); Kris Medlen (ATL); Craig Kimbrel (ATL); Heath Bell (ARI); Chris Perez (CLE); Vinnie Pestano (CLE); Luke Gregerson (SD); Glen Perkins (MIN); Steve Cishek (MIA); Jeremy Affeldt (SF); Tim Collins (KC); Mitchell Boggs (STL).