Baseball was invented in the United States, but the World Baseball Classic has been dominated by Japan.
US manager Joe Torre has taken a different approach in the WBC’s third edition this year. Rather than stock his entire roster with high-profile stars, he’s got a basic starting nine with utility players, three catchers, and 15 pitchers filling out the 28-man group.
‘‘I think it’s advantageous. I think you need role players,’’ said Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun, who was part of the 2009 team that made it to the semifinals. ‘‘You look at regular teams throughout the course of the season, those role players are instrumental in teams finding a way to win games. It’s certainly important to have versatility.’’
The Americans went through their only pre-tournament workout Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz., a light, two-hour session at Salt River Fields, the spring training home of Arizona and Colorado.
They have exhibition games against the White Sox and Rockies before their opener Friday against Mexico at Chase Field, which could draw an enthusiastic and not necessarily pro-US crowd.
Although the team includes Braun, Mets third baseman David Wright , and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Torre chose only one player at each infield position.
Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins is at shortstop and Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips will play second. Their backups are Arizona’s Willie Bloomquist and Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist with Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer expected to fill in some at first base as well as at designated hitter. The outfielders are Braun, Baltimore’s Adam Jones and Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, with the Red Sox’ Shane Victorino another option.
The Americans’ group also includes Canada and Italy. After round-robin play concludes with the Canada-US game Sunday, the top two nations advance to the second round in Florida. The semifinals and finals will be held the following week in San Francisco.
In Monday’s games, Jose Abreu hit a grand slam to help Cuba clobber China, 12-0, in Fukuoka, Japan, ensuring it would advance to the second round. In Taiwan, Seung Song allowed two hits in four innings and South Korea beat Australia, 6-0. The win lifted the South Koreans to 1-1 and set up a crucial game against host Taiwan Tuesday. Australia fell to 0-2.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman broke his right leg and dislocated the ankle while skydiving in Florida. Cashman, 45, jumped with the US Army Golden Knights in a plane from Homestead Air Reserve Base outside Miami, a fund-raiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. He was hurt on his second jump. The Yankees said X-rays revealed a broken fibula and dislocated ankle and that Cashman had surgery to repair the damage . . . Robinson Cano’s father, Jose, says he expects the Yankees to re-sign their All-Star second baseman rather than let him leave through free agency after the season. Jose says he hopes Robinson, 29, will spend his entire career in New York. Jose thinks his son will get a six- or seven-year contract.
Athletics on fire
John Jaso had a bases-loaded triple, Brandon Moss had two hits and an RBI, and the Athletics beat the Angels, 13-5, in Phoenix. Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout had three hits for the Angels, who lost their third straight. Josh Reddick, Jed Lowrie, and Moss each drove in runs in the fifth to put Oakland ahead to stay . . . Carlos Carrasco pitched three innings after being hit in the side of the head by a comebacker in the first, and Mark Reynolds and Nick Swisher each homered to help the Indians beat the Cubs, 13-5, in Mesa, Ariz. Carrasco was hit on the side of the head by Darnell McDonald’s line drive. Carrasco went down on his knees and was tended to by trainers but stayed in the game. He allowed four hits and two runs . . . Tim Hudson allowed six hits and a run while throwing 80 pitches over four innings, leading the Braves to a 4-2 win over the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla. ‘‘About 75 of those 80 were stressful pitches,’’ Hudson said. Justin Upton and Chris Johnson each hit solo home runs for the Braves. Marlon Byrd drove in both runs for the Mets . . . A.J. Burnett walked in a pair of runs in Philadelphia’s four-run second inning as the Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-0, in Bradenton. Fla. Burnett lasted just 1⅓ innings of a scheduled three.