jesse rogersESPN Writer4 minute read
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Team USA manager Mark DeRosa is sparing no effort in his preparation to handle one of the favorites to win the World Baseball Classic this month. He even sought advice from another coach who had experience with an all-star team.
“I spoke to Mike Krzyzewski before I came here because he had the Dream Team and he did this ‘Redeem Team’ on Netflix – and I watched it,” DeRosa said of the legendary former coach of Duke men’s basketball who also led the men’s team. national team to three consecutive Olympic gold medals. “He said, ‘Make them understand: you’re not playing for the United States, you’re the United States.
“I thought that was a powerful message for those guys.”
DeRosa, 48, spoke to reporters ahead of an exhibition game against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.
He will be a coach for the first time when Team USA takes to the field on Saturday against Great Britain in the first round of the tournament. The team’s first practice took place on Tuesday, as the players left their spring training camps this week in Arizona and Florida.
“Addressing them was one of the highlights of my life,” DeRosa said.
DeRosa’s biggest challenge might be filling out the roster card for a team littered with World Series champions and All-Stars.
“You don’t mean to offend anyone,” DeRosa said with a smile. “There’s no wrong answer, really. We’ve checked it a million different ways. We’ve tried to separate lefties and righties.”
Team USA is led by Mike Trout and Mookie Betts and includes 2022 National League MVP Paul Goldschmidt, as well as St. Louis Cardinals teammate Nolan Arenado.
DeRosa admitted that getting the pitchers involved was not such an easy task. Some of the best arms, such as Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, don’t play in the WBC.
“I wanted to create a team,” DeRosa said. “I didn’t want guys to come in and out. I didn’t want any of that. I wanted us to close the doors and become a band.
“For a man, every guy I spoke to was dying to put the United States on their chest and be a part of it.”
The United States are the defending champions, returning 10 players from the 2017 team that won it all. The Americans are deep except at second base, where Betts is likely to see time. Betts has appeared in just 30 career games at this position.
“I can’t knock Jeff McNeil to the ground,” DeRosa said. “Mookie will play for a few seconds.”
Betting should get some help on this side of the diamond, as tournament games will be played under old MLB rules, in which shifts are allowed and there will be no pitch clock. Bat jumps are also common in international competitions.
“Me and Tim Anderson discussed it,” DeRosa said. “We really. … I like it, if it’s done the right way. … I have a 13-year-old son who wants to flip him to the moon when he goes deep.”
Team USA will play from Saturday to Monday and again Wednesday in Pool, which includes matches against Mexico, Canada and Colombia, as well as their match against England. The two best teams advance.
“Now it’s starting to get real,” DeRosa said.
He said he wasn’t worried about motivation but just when to switch pitchers. He will rely on coaches Dave Righetti and Andy Pettitte to help him in that department.
When it comes to leadership, DeRosa has the best player in the world over the past decade for that. In fact, Trout and DeRosa are both from New Jersey.
“There’s a little connection there,” DeRosa said. “I’m a Cowboys fan and he’s an Eagles fan. We’ve played each other all season.
“He’s been a leader for us so far.”