Gillies asked to play for Canada

GREGG DRINNAN / Kamloops Daily News
January 14, 2013 01:00 AM

Tyson Gillies of Kamloops is one of four outfielders on the provisional roster for the Canadian team that is to play in the World Baseball Classic.

Canada is able to carry as many as 30 players on its roster. The first 23 players were identified Saturday as Baseball Canada held a fundraiser in Toronto.

The international tournament opens March 2, although Canada doesn't play its first game until March 8 when it faces Italy in Pool D play in Phoenix. Canada will be in a pool that also includes Mexico and the U.S.

Joining Gillies, a 24-year-old centre fielder with great speed, as Canada's outfielders to this point are Adam Loewen, a former pitcher who is working to reinvent himself with the New York Mets; Victoria native Michael Saunders of the Seattle Mariners; and Tim Smith of Toronto, who is in the Baltimore Orioles oganization.

Gillies is on the Philadelphia Phillies' 40-man roster. He played mostly with the Class AA Reading, Pa., Phillies last season, hitting .304.

Most importantly, Gillies had 311 plate appearances with Reading as he was mostly healthy for the first time since 2009, when he had 593 plate appearances with the High Desert Mavericks, a High Class A team in the Mariners organization.

Gillies, who has battled hamstring problems for much of his professional career, was part of a Dec. 16, 2009 deal in which Cy Young-winner Cliff Lee moved from the Phillies to the Mariners.

Gillies played for Canada in late September when it went 3-0 in a qualifier in Germany.

Gillies is in Clearwater, Fla., the site of the Phillies' training facility, and will stay there until his reporting date of Feb. 15.

He spent the weekend doing a youth camp in Perry, Fla., along with right-handers Phillippe Aumont of Gatineau, Que., who is a Phillies prospect, and Scott Mathieson of Aldergrove, who has signed with Japan's Yomiuri Giants. Aumont and Mathieson both are on Canada's WBC roster.

The Canadian team, which is managed by former Toronto Blue Jays catcher Ernie Whitt, hopes to add first baseman Joey Votto to its roster. Votto had knee problems that curtailed his 2012 season with the Cincinnati Reds. He has to pass a physical with the Reds before being added.

Not on the Canadian roster are the likes of outfielder Jason Bay, who recently signed with Seattle, and southpaw Erik Bedard, who is a free agent.

Right-hander Ryan Dempster, who recently signed a free-agent deal with the Boston Red Sox, hasn't yet decided if he will play for Canada.

Canada's roster also includes right-hander Dustin Molleken of Regina, who has signed with Japan's Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Molleken, 28, is the nephew of Lorne Molleken, the general manager and head coach of the WHL's Saskatoon Blades.

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