Team USA extends invitation to Hawpe
Rockies outfielder mulling offer to play in World Baseball Classic
DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe has been invited to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and is mulling whether to commit to the tournament.
"Brad feels this is a nice honor," said agent Dan Horwits, who said Hawpe received a call from USA Baseball on Thursday afternoon. "He's going to be talking it over with his family and with the Rockies before he decides what he's going to do."
Names are gradually surfacing, and indications are Hawpe would be one of four rotating outfielders, the others being Ryan Braun, Grady Sizemore and Curtis Granderson. Also, Mark DeRosa could get outfield playing time as part of his super-utility role.
The World Baseball Classic begins for Team USA with workouts starting March 2 and opening-round games beginning March 7.
Hawpe, 29, hit .283 with 25 home runs and 85 RBIs for the Rockies in 2008.
Hawpe is the only Rockies player known to have earned an invitation from Team USA. In 2006, the Rockies were represented on Team USA by outfielder Matt Holliday, now with the Athletics, and relief pitcher Brian Fuentes, now with the Angels.
It's unclear how many Rockies will participate for other countries. Right-handed relief pitcher Manuel Corpas is a virtual lock to pitch for Panama. Rockies club officials believe right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez could be invited by the Dominican Republic, and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa could be asked to pitch for Mexico.
An early list of Venezuelan possibilities includes left-handed starting pitcher Franklin Morales, catcher Yorvit Torrealba (a knee injury at the end of the regular season could be an obstacle), Minor League catcher Edwin Bellorin and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (one of the players obtained in the Holliday trade). However, that list was from shortly after the regular season. It's unlikely that left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis, who pitched for Canada in 2006, will participate because of a shoulder injury that shortened his 2008 season.