TORONTO - Derek Jeter is taking this tournament personally. Chipper Jones and Jake Peavy are, too.
Holdovers from Team USA’s eighth-place finish at the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006, all three stars are eager to make amends in the second incarnation of the 16-team event.
The way they see it, it’s time to take back America’s game.
The United States worked out Friday in preparation for its tournament opener today against Canada, and Jones said new manager Davey Johnson made it clear from the outset that this U.S. squad would not accept falling short.
“He tried to instill that from the very first phone call this offseason that what we did in 2006 was substandard and embarrassing to a certain extent and that it was going to be up to guys like me and Jete to relay that feeling that we had in ’06, so we don’t do it again,” Jones said.
Peavy, the San Diego Padres’ ace and 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner, will start Saturday at Rogers Centre in Toronto. Italy and Venezuela, the other teams in Pool C, play Saturday night, with Seattle Mariners right-hander Carlos Silva scheduled to start for Venezuela.
The top two teams in pool play advance to the next round.
Despite a roster filled with major league All-Stars, the U.S. finished 3-3 at the first WBC — with losses on home soil to Canada, South Korea and Mexico — and was knocked out in the second round. Japan beat Cuba in the championship game.
Jeter, Jones and Peavy all played for Team USA in 2006. Los Angeles Angels reliever Scot Shields is the only other holdover.
“There’s four of us that are here this time who played on the team in ’06 and it was a huge disappointment,” Jeter said. “You hear about it throughout the year, so you definitely want to come here and play a lot better than we did the first time around. Baseball is a big sport, it’s bigger in our country than it is here in Canada, so it means a lot to people and it means a lot to the players in our locker room.”