Canada has named its three starting pitchers for the first round of the World Baseball Classic.
Baseball Canada’s Greg Hamilton says Chris Leroux, Shawn Hill and Scott Mathieson will take the mound next week against Italy, Mexico and the United States.
Canada, which opens the WBC against Italy on March 8 in Arizona, before facing Mexico on March 9 and the United States on March 10, has yet to decide which teams the starters will pitch against.
“We’re still fleshing that out right now. We’ve got some different thoughts but we still haven’t said or determined definitively who’s starting which games,” said Hamilton.
“We’ve talked to the various pitchers about what our thoughts are and make sure everybody stays healthy here through camps before we kind of put a seal of approval on what we’re thinking of doing.”
Leroux, a 28-year-old Montreal native, is coming off an injury-shortened season as a reliever with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has shown he can work out of the rotation and made seven starts for Triple-A Indianapolis last season.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound right hander, has a 5.48 earned-run average in 61 appearances since making his major-league debut in 2009 with the Florida Marlins.
Hill, from Mississauga, Ont., was part of Canada’s gold-medal winning team at the Pan American Games in October 2011. Now with the Detroit Tigers, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound righty made 15 starts with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate last season.
Hill made his MLB debut with Montreal in 2004. The 31-year-old has a 4.69 ERA in 45 games with the Expos, Washington, San Diego and the Jays.
Vancouver’s Mathieson, a former Philadelphia Phillies reliever, helped Japan’s Yomiuri Giants win the Nippon Professional Baseball championship last season.
Mathieson, a 6-foot-3, 229-pound righty, worked out of the Giants’ bullpen with a 1.71 ERA and 10 saves in 40 games.
Mathieson, 29, played for Canada at the 2006 WBC, while Leroux pitched for Canada out of the bullpen in 2009. Hill is making his WBC debut.
Starting pitchers are limited to 65 pitches in the first round of the tournament, a drop from 70 pitches in 2009. The pitch count rises to 80 in the second round and 95 for the semi-finals and final.