Friday, March 3rd 2006
John Stephens to start against Italy
FORT MYERS, FLORIDA RIGHT hand pitcher John Stephens has been named as the starting pitcher for Australia against Italy in the opening game of the Pool D in the World Baseball Classic in Orlando on Tuesday.
Australian manager Jon Deeble said Stephens, who pitched for Boston Red Sox in the major leagues in 2002, had the required experience and expertise for such an occasion.
Deeble said Stephens, a non roster invitee to the Baltimore Orioles spring training, and left hander Paul Mildren, a Florida Marlins minor leaguer, would hopefully pitch Australia to a winning position before handing the ball over to closer Peter Moylan.
He said it was imperative for Australia’s prospects to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic that the team was successful against Italy.
“With Stephens and Mildren we have a really good chance against Italy. It’s a game we must win,” Deeble said.
He said Moss, who threw against Boston Red Sox split squad in the exhibition game in Fort Myers on Sunday, was the ideal choice to pitch against the talent laden Dominican Republic.
“He (Moss) does a lot. For No 1, he has been successful in the big leagues,” Deeble said
“He broke the record for number of wins by a rookie with the Braves. He’s a proven winner.
“What we found out in the Athens Olympics when we had (David) Nilsson and (Graeme) Lloyd is that all the players grew to another level.
“I don’t think we would have won the Silver medal without Nilsson and Lloyd.
“Nilsson and Lloyd were good not only on the field, but also off it. Players around them grew.”
Deeble said the players will still recovering from jetlag after a 30-hour plus trip.
“It wasn’t a lot better yesterday. Players are still not sleeping, they are waking up at 3 am,” he said.
“It’s a huge impact. Hopefully in another day it will get back to normal.”
Tom Brice recovered from a ricked neck, which saw him sit out practice on Saturday, and played against the Boston Red Sox split squad on Sunday.