Freeman, O’Neill lead Canada’s roster for upcoming World Baseball Classic

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OTTAWA — Six-time all-star Freddie Freeman will lead Canada at the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Freeman, who won the 2020 National League MVP award and the 2021 World Series with the Atlanta Braves, was one of 30 players named to Canada’s roster Thursday by manager Ernie Whitt.

Freeman, born in Fountain Valley, Calif., to Canadian parents, also represented Canada at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The first baseman hit .325 with 21 home runs and 100 runs batted in with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

Canada’s roster features 10 players who appeared in Major League Baseball last season, including two-time Gold Glove outfielder Tyler O’Neill of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nick Pivetta of the Boston Red Sox and Cal Quantrill of the Cleveland Guardians will lead the pitching staff, while Matt Brash (Seattle), Otto Lopez (Toronto), Bo Naylor (Cleveland), Abraham Toro (Milwaukee), Jared Young (Chicago Cubs) and Rob Zastryzny (Pittsburgh) were also named to the team.

Former big leaguers representing Canada include Andrew Albers, Phillippe Aumont, John Axford, Adam Loewen, Scott Mathieson and Jacob Robson.

Canada’s roster features eight players who previously participated in the World Baseball Classic including Albers (2013, 2017), Aumont (2009, 2013), Axford (2013), Freeman (2017), Loewen (2006, 2013), Mathieson (2006, 2013, 2017), O’Neill (2017) and Pivetta (2017).

“The honour of representing Canada and managing these players is something that means a great deal to me,” Whitt said in a release. “There’s nothing better than international baseball and the intensity of the World Baseball Classic.

“I know our team will be ready to compete once the tournament begins next month.”

Joining Whitt on the coaching staff are Baseball Hall of Famer Larry Walker, former MLB all-stars Russell Martin and Paul Quantrill, former big leaguer Denis Boucher, former Toronto Blue Jays first-base coach Tim Leiper and Baseball Canada’s director of national teams Greg Hamilton.

Canada will compete in Phoenix as part of Pool C in the first round along with Colombia, Britain, Mexico and the United States. Canada opens against Britain on March 12.

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