Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 2/12/13
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Who needs the Olympics? When the International Olympic Committee decided to vote baseball and softball out of the 2012 London games, the world baseball community was left in shock. Behind the scenes, though, the major world baseball powers were trying to organize a tournament to showcase all their talent. This began the World Baseball Classic. The WBC is a 16 team tournament where each country represented sends a team full of talent to compete against the world. It’s like the World Cup of baseball. It takes place in March, pulling players from their Spring Training for about a week or so. The Seattle Mariners are well represented, too. While we won’t recognize some of the names representing the Mariners this year, we could very well see them in the near future. Let’s take a look at which Mariners will be representing their country in this year’s WBC. The Pros Michael Saunders playing for team Canada (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld) Michael Saunders – OF – Canada Michael Saunders is playing in his first WBC this season for his native Canada. The Canadians were eliminated in the first round of the past 2 classics and are looking to qualify this year and make a run at perrennial champion, Japan. 2012 Stats: .247 AVG / 19 HR / 57 RBI Oliver Perez – P – Mexico Olive Perez has played in all 3 WBC tournaments. His journey has been a long one, this being his third MLB team he has played for come tournament time – Perez represented the Pirates and Mets in the previous two tournaments. Mexico has been eliminated in the 2nd round of both tournments so far and are looking to improve this season against some tough competititon. 2012 Stats: 2.12 ERA / 24 K’s / 29 2/3 Innings Pitched Alex Liddi – Italy Like Perez, Alex Liddi is playing in his thrid WBC as well. He has played for the Mariners in each tournament where he represented his home country of Italy. Italy has been eliminated in the first round of both WBC tournaments so far. 2012 Stats: .224 AVG / 3 HR / 10 RBI The Minors Pedro Okuda – SS – Brazil We have not heard the name Pedro Okuda yet. When you’re playing in the Venezuelan Rookie League, you’re not going to get much exposure in the US. If he plays well for his home country of Brazil, we could be learning his name sooner than later. This is the first year that Brazil has fielded a qualifying team for the WBC, shocking Panama in November to earn their tournament birth. 2012 Stats: .274 AVG / 0 HR / 19 RBI Kalian Sams is working his way through the Mariners minor league system Luiz Gohara – LHP – Brazil The Mariners have a lot of Latin players under contract, but many have not even seen the light of US soil. Luiz Gohara is one of those players. He is representing the Mariners while playing for his native Brazil. Goahra does not have any professional experience as of yet, as the Mariners signed the highly touted youngster last year at the age of 16. He was ranked the #7 overall international prospect by Baseball America at the time of his signing. Thyago Vieira – RHP – Brazil Also a member of the Seattle Mariners Venezuelan Rookie Team, Thyago Vieira is going to be playing for Brazil in the WBC. He has not played in a Classic yet, but his play could determine his immediate future with the Mariners. 2012 Stats: 3-5 / 6.05 ERA / 35 K’s Kalian Sams – OF – Netherlands The Netherlands will host another Mariner player this year, with Kalian Sams coming from AA Jackson to represent his country. Sams has made his way through the Mariners farm system, helping teams like the Pulanski Mariners reach the tops of their leagues. Netherlands has been knocked out of both the first and second rounds in the previous two Classics. 2012 Stats: .242 AVG / 11 HR / 35 RBI Brian Sweeney – RHP – Italy – AAA Tacoma Brian Sweeney is no stranger to Mariners fans. He’s lingered in Tacoma for a bit now and has tried to get his foot back in the door in Seattle in the twilight of his career. Playing for Italy in the WBC, Sweeney will hope a strong spring training paired with a hopefully good run for team Italy will bolster his chances to make the big league club next season. 2012 Stats: 6-4 / 4.63 ERA / 55 K’s CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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