Des Moines, IA
- When the participating countries listed their preliminary rosters for the upcoming World Baseball Classic yesterday, 13 former Iowa Cubs were tabbed - but none by the United States. Included in the baker's dozen are six players from last year's club.
The headliner of the group is 1B Anthony Rizzo, who will play for Italy. Rizzo hit .342 with 23 home runs and 62 RBI in 70 games with the I-Cubs last year before getting called up to Chicago on June 26. He hit .285 with 15 home runs and 48 RBI in 87 games with Chicago to finish the season. Other 2012 I-Cubs that will play in the WBC include: LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith and RHP Ryan Searle for Australia and RHP Rodrigo Lopez, IF Alfredo Amezaga, and IF Edgar Gonzalez for Mexico. Both Lopez and Amezaga have had strong showings during the winter ball season in Mexico where Amezaga won the regular season batting crown.
RHP Carlos Zambrano leads the list of the other I-Cubs alumni in the WBC. Zambrano, who played for Iowa from 2000-2002 and had a rehab stint with the team in 2010, will compete for his native Venezuela. C Chris Robinson (2007, '09-11 with Iowa) and RHP Jim Henderson (2007-08) will play for Canada. Robinson is currently with the Baltimore Orioles organization and Henderson made his major league debut with the Milwaukee Brewers last season.
A trio of former I-Cubs will suit up for Puerto Rico: OF Angel Pagan (2006-07), IF Luis Figueroa (2008), and IF Pedro Valdes (1996-98). Pagan became a World Series champion with the San Francisco Giants last season and signed a four-year contract extension with the Giants during the winter meetings in December. Figueroa has been with five different organizations since leaving the Cubs and played in Mexico last year. At 39 years old, Valdes has been out of affiliated baseball for several years, but has been among the top hitters in winter ball this year. RHP Hung-Wen Chen (2010-11) rounds out the list as a member of Chinese Taipei.
A total of 16 countries will participate in this year's WBC with four teams each in one of four round-robin pools running March 2-10. The field will be narrowed to a four-team, single-elimination, championship round at AT&T Park in San Francisco, CA, March 17-19.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.