Bendigo baseballer Josh Davies will make his pitch for a regular spot in the Australian team after being selected in the provisional 28-player squad for the World Baseball Classic.
The 27-year-old utility is in line to play against some of the world’s best – including many Major Leaguers – at his first international competition.
Australia will take on South Korea, the Netherlands and Chinese Taipei in pool B in Taiwan from March 2-5.
“Major League Baseball is supposed to release their contracted players, so it’s the best of what everyone has to offer, really,” Davies said.
“It’s my first time in the senior ranks. I’ve played a couple of exhibition games in Australia, but never travelled to an international competition – so it’s pretty exciting.
“I’d love to be a fairly regular player for all the events they have.”
The competition has four pools, with the top two from Australia’s pool to play the second round in Tokyo.
If Australia makes it past the second round, it will play semi-finals in the USA – where Davies had a six-year stint with the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres.
The former Strathfieldsaye Dodger earned his spot on the national team after some top performances for the Melbourne Aces in the Australian Baseball League.
Davies averaged .281 hits per innings in 38 games this season, his third with the Aces.
“I did pretty well in the middle of the season, but died off a little bit towards the end of the season,” he said.
“You get pretty tired working a full-time job then playing on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
Davies played first, second and third base and left field for the Aces this season, which has six players in the WBC squad.
Australia is 10th on the IBAF rankings and competed in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics.
While Australia hasn’t progressed beyond the first round, it showed promise in 2009 with a 17-7 win over host country Mexico.
The national team also set a new tournament record for hits in a game with 22 and more recently, finished fifth in the 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup.
In a blow for this year’s WBC team, Australia will play without Grant Balfour and Travis Blackley, who haven’t been released from pitching duties by Major League team Oakland Athletics.
The final Australian squad leaves to play warm-up matches in Taiwan and Japan on February 17.