By Sam Bush
Ten Phillies, six of whom will be in the team’s opening day roster in April, will represent seven countries at the World Baseball Classic March 6-22:
That group includes center fielder Odubel Herrera (above), shortstop Freddy Galvis and right-handers Jeanmar Gomez and Edubray Ramos, who will play for Venezuela. Right-hander Hector Neris will pitch for the Dominican Republic and right-hander Pat Neshek will pitch for the United States.
The four Minor Leaguers scheduled to participate are catcher Jorge Alfaro(Colombia), left-hander Nick Fanti (Italy), right-hander Kenny Koplove (Israel) and right-hander Nick Pivetta (Canada).
The absence of Galvis should allow Triple-A Lehigh Valley prospect J.P. Crawford to get more playing time in spring training. Crawford is expected to begin the season in Triple-A, but could push Galvis for a job during the regular season.
Gomez closed for the Phillies last season, but the Phillies have said there will be a competition for the job this spring — although Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said last month that Gomez still has the edge. That said, Neris has better stuff and seems like the best candidate to usurp Gomez.
The World Baseball Classic runs from March 6-22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis viaMLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage.