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Canada short of pitching for baseball classic

Canada short of pitching for baseball classic
TORONTO Pitching was always going to be Canada's soft spot at the World Baseball Classic and things are looking worse now that Ryan Dempster has bowed out and Rich Harden is questionable.

The 45-man provisional rosters for all 16 teams at the tournament were unveiled yesterday by Major League Baseball.

Harden's name did make Canada's list, but health concerns are putting his participation into serious doubt.

Dempster, the Cubs right-hander, signed a four-year contract extension in November and sources suggest he pulled out because of a sense of responsibility to the team.

Regardless, his absence plus injuries to Erik Bedard, Shawn Hill and Scott Mathieson leaves Canada's pitching very, very thin.

Jeff Francis of the Colorado Rockies will be the staff ace, while Toronto Blue Jays hopeful Scott Richmond jumps up several spots.

National team stalwarts such as Chris Begg, Mike Johnson, Steve Green and Eric Cyr will get serious consideration. Minnesota Twins reliever Jesse Crain and free agent Eric Gagne will anchor the bullpen.

Canada's infield and outfield seems to be in good shape. Catchers Russ Martin and Luke Carlin, first basemen Justin Morneau and Joey Votto, infielders Pete Orr, Chris Barnwell and Stubby Clapp, third baseman Mark Teahen and outfielders Jason Bay, Matt Stairs and Nick Weglarz are all on board.

Top Mariners prospect Mike Saunders is a notable absence as he recovers from shoulder surgery, while Brett Lawrie was included.

Other names included: pitching prospects Phillippe Aumont (Seattle); Dave Davidson (Pittsburgh); Adam Stern (free agent); Pete Laforest (free agent); and Aaron Guiel (Japan).

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: January 20, 2009

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