Australia gets set for tough Venezuela
After opening loss to Italy, Aussies regrouping and refocusing
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
While recording just one hit in Tuesday's 10-0, mercy-rule loss to Italy, the Australians never gave themselves a chance to compete like they did when they surprised many with a silver medal finish in the 2004 Olympics.
"It's an important tournament for us," Australian second baseman Trent Durrington said. "That's what makes [Tuesday's] game frustrating and disappointing."
The Australians will send Phil Brassington to the mound on Thursday to face Venezuela's Carlos Silva. The 35-year-old Aussie will be facing a lineup that features Bobby Abreu and Miguel Cabrera.
"We're not expecting to win every game," Brassington said. "We're not here to try to win [the tournament]. We're here to play as well as we can, and execute properly and execute well. If we do that, we can compete."
Brassington, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Royals in 1993, has spent most of his professional career playing in Australia.
Meanwhile, Silva, who issued just nine walks in 188 1/3 innings and won nine games for Minnesota last year, is just one of the top-notch Major Leaguers Venezuela has on its pitching staff. Each has been much more successful than Jason Grilli, who limited the Aussies to one hit in 4 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday night.
Having lost the one game that most thought was the only one they could win, the Australians now must focus on salvaging the tournament by playing well against the top two teams in Pool D.
By doing so, they may be able to further the popularity and growth of the game back in their native land.
"There is no one specific thing we're trying to gain, apart from as a nation, consistently getting better and consistently performing at a high level," Nilsson said.