Official WBC rosters came out last week and a handful of N.L. Central players made their country’s respective cut. Midwest Swing takes a deeper look into the lives of N.L. Central players battling for world supremacy
By Danny Mehigan
The Brewers are not like other teams. They did not have superstars turning down opportunities to play in the World Baseball Classic because of injury, contract stipulations or general disdain. Except Yovani Gallardo – he did turn it down in order to completely rehab from the injuries that robbed him of most of his 2008. Other big names, like Prince Fielder (lack of veggie burgers in host cities) and Robin Yount (retired about 15 years ago and is far too old) were not invited to participate. But there are some Brewers involved, and let’s meet ’em all.
David Welch (Australia): Finished with a 11-4 record in AA Huntsville in 2008, rocking out with a 3.90 ERA and almost 2 to 1 K:BB ratio. He didn’t play in the 2006 WBC, but the Sydney native was most likely at home hanging out with koalas and eating shrimp on barbies – which sounds more fun that playing some baseball anyway. Welch is trying to become just the fourth player from Texarkana College to make the major leagues. Before that happens, someone of importance at that school needs to decide if they like Texas or if they like Arkansas. Ya just can’t have both.
Mark DiFelice (Italy): In 2008, DiFelice split his time between AAA and the big club in Milwaukee, appearing in 15 games for the Crew. He pitched well too, with a 2.84 ERA, 20 K and only five BB, but most of his appearances came in blowouts. It was his 11th professional season, but the first time he had reached the majors. Congrats to the guy for stickin’ with it – and the rewards keep coming as he gets to play for his homeland. Well, Pennsylvania doesn’t have a team, so the Haverstown native probably just went back a few generations for this one.
Vinny Rottino (Italy): Rottino is a versatile player who has been used all over the diamond, but catcher is his natural spot. He hit .260 for AAA Nashville last year with 30 doubles. He also went 0 for 1 with the Brewers in September. Needless to say, he was not a regular. This is the first time he’ll be partaking in World Baseball Classic-ness. I don’t know if the guy ever lived in Italy, or even visited… but doesn’t he sound like a real Italian? If that isn’t enough, then Mike Piazza needs his WBC record wiped clean. Rottino grew up in Racine, Wisc. (aka The Cilla) and is one of two Wisconsinites on the Brewers 40-man roster.
Ryan Braun (USA): If you don’t know who Braunie is by now, then you’re no friend of mine. The 2008 NL All-Star starting leftfielder hit .285 with 39 doubles, 37 dingers and 106 RBI, despite being hurt for most of the final two months. Also, he was the only Brewers player to remember that offense is a good thing in the postseason. Considering he had just graduated from The U (Miami, for those who mysteriously think I’m talking about Minnesota), it’s no surprise this is also his first WBC. His brother Steven is on the Brewers’ rookie club in Helena, so between Milwaukee and Montana, I’m not sure if the Cali-bred Braun boys are too excited about where they live nowadays.
Brett Lawrie (Canada): This crazy Canuck is one of the best power hitting prospects in the minors. Or at least he will be once he plays a game. Lawrie just graduated from high school last year and was the 16th overall draft pick out of Brookswood Secondary School in British Columbia. He was picked as a catcher, but switched to second base less than a month ago. Eat your heart out, Jeff Kent – though I doubt Lawrie has that nice of a ‘stache. During a summer tournament in the Dominican Republic for the Canadian junior national team, Lawrie hit eight home runs in five games and was the talk of the tournament. In his free time, he likes pond hockey and ice fishing. Alright, I made that last part up, but it’s a safe assumption, eh?