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Dempster opts out of World Baseball Classic

Dempster opts out of World Baseball Classic
Ryan Dempster has decided he will not pitch for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic at the Rogers Centre in Toronto this March.

"After a lot of thought, Ryan decided it is not in his best interest for him to play," Greg Hamilton, director of Baseball Canada national team, said last night as Canada's 45-man provisional roster for the second WBC was announced.

The 17-game winner from Gibsons, B.C., recently signed a four-year $52-million US deal with the Chicago Cubs.

"We spoke at length and Ryan decided, after a lot of soul searching, he couldn't play," Hamilton said.

Who is Canada's next best available starter?

Well, it won't be Colorado Rockies lefty Jeff Francis, of North Delta, B.C. Francis had trouble throwing from 50 feet in his latest workout session on Friday and shut himself down.

It could be Cubs righty Rich Harden of Victoria, B.C. Harden is on the provisional roster, but had injuries in 2008 and was in Chicago on the weekend meeting with Cubs doctors. So he is not a lock.

So, the best starter could be right-hander Scott Richmond, who made five starts for the Blue Jays in 2008. Team USA will have Vernon Wells and B.J. Ryan off the Jays on the roster.

While pitching will be a worry, Canada will field a major-league lineup as it tries to be one of two teams advancing from a pool which includes the U.S., Venezuela and Italy.

Los Angeles Dodgers' Russell Martin will catch, former MVP Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins will play at first, Washington's Peter Orr second, Kansas City Royals' Mark Teahen third and Chris Barnwell of the Houston Astros at short.

The outfield likely will have Boston Red Sox stud Jason Bay in centre, Matt Stairs of the Philadelphia Phillies in right and Cleveland Indians prospect Nick Weglarz in left. The Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto will be the DH.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: January 21, 2009

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