Gagne won't pitch for Canada
2/9/2006 7:42:25 PM
It's Game Over for Canada's hopes of getting Eric Gagne for the World Baseball Classic.
The star Los Angeles Dodgers closer won't be ready in time to pitch in the inaugural World-Cup style tournament next month, another big-time pitching loss for the national team.
"He was enthusiastic and wanted to see if he could pitch," said Canadian team general manager Greg Hamilton, who got the news late Wednesday night. "But as you get closer reality sets in. He realized it was questionable that he comfortably compete and comfortably be Eric Gagne."
Gagne, from Mascouche, Que., underwent surgery on his elbow last summer and has been working his way back ever since. The Dodgers didn't want him to pitch in the tournament and their opposition never wavered, filing an appeal with Major League Baseball to keep him from wearing the Maple Leaf.
"To be honest I can understand the position of the ball club," said Hamilton.
His absence leaves the closing duties in the hands of Minnesota's Jesse Crain and Atlanta's Chris Reitsma.
Gagne joins Oakland Athletics starter Rich Harden on the sidelines. Harden is recovering from October surgery on his non-throwing shoulder and also won't be ready for the Classic, a massive blow to the Canadian rotation.
But things are looking better with Washington prospect Shawn Hill, who is coming back from ligament-replacement surgery on his right arm following his stint with Canada at the 2004 Olympics.
He's progressing well and Hamilton is hopeful Hill will be allowed by the Nationals to play in the tournament.
Canada has four spots left on his 30-man roster and all will be used on pitchers.
The two top candidates are Scott Mathieson, a Philadelphia Phillies prospect, and veteran Aaron Myette, part of the 2004 Olympic team.
Baseball Canada also finalized manager Ernie Whitt's coaching staff.
Former Toronto Blue Jay and Montreal Expo Denis Boucher serves as pitching coach, with Hamilton, Larry Walker, Rob Ducey and Tim Leiper sharing the rest of the responsibilities.