Notes: Winn says USA up for Classic

Giants outfielder excited to represent country; Ellison bulks up

Omar Vizquel (left) and Randy Winn are both participating in the WBC. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There's been speculation that American fans -- and some of the players on the USA team in the World Baseball Classic -- may be fairly blase about the upcoming tournament, that it's not that big of a deal.

It's the Major League season that really counts, right.

Hey, the Latin aficionados who are the ones going crazy about the event, loving the fact the Dominican Republic or Venezuela -- shoot, what about Cuba? -- can showcase their homegrown talent on this world stage.

As Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel said, his Venezuelan countrymen are always talking "baseball, baseball, baseball," with the WBC on their minds.

San Francisco's lone representative on the United States squad, however, says the Americans may not be so verbal about the tournament now, but just wait until they put on the red, white and blue uni, wait until the crowds show up and the competition starts.

"I'm really excited about it," said outfielder Randy Winn. "It's definitely an honor to be chosen to play and represent your country. Maybe there's a perception about [attitudes], but once players step on the field, it'll be a different story.

"Everybody's competitive, everybody wants to win. You can't let teams show you up. They may be nonchalant now, but when things are on the line, you're going to play your best."

Winn is coming off a spectacular half-season with the Giants -- he hit .359 over 58 games, sporting a .680 slugging percentage, and was Player of the Month for September with an awesome .447 average and 51 hits.

Whether that powerful finish helped put him on the U.S. team is unknown, but Winn expects it to match the thrill of his All-Star appearance in 2002 with the Devil Rays.

"That was a huge thrill, looking around the clubhouse and seeing everybody there," said Winn. "And being chosen from a group of so many talented players, I expect this will be the same-type thing."

There are concerns from owners and managers that playing in the WBC -- it runs March 3-20 -- means athletes must play hard from the outset as opposed to slowly gaining form in Spring Training.

There's a risk, and Winn is aware of it, as well as sitting on the bench for long periods without action.

"I do have playing-time concerns," said Winn. "But they'll try to break up the game load so people aren't playing nine innings. The intensity will be up, and I'd like to have my legs in a little better shape."

Giants officials, meantime, have begun negotiations with Winn's agent, Craig Landis, about awarding the veteran a multiyear contract.

Alou's WBC issues: Giants manager Felipe Alou, who'll have four players missing Cactus League games due to the WBC -- Winn, Vizquel, Moises Alou (Dominican Republic) and Pedro Feliz (DR) -- says most Major League teams will be in the same boat.

"The bad thing is not having four regulars," he said. "The good things is the young guys can play, sometimes on a daily basis, rather than come in at the seventh or eighth innings."

Outfielders expecting to see considerable action are Todd Linden, Jason Ellison and probably Dan Ortmeier.

Bigger, stronger: Ellison's new muscles terrorized the threads of his gray Giants T-shirt Saturday. He has bulked up by 15 pounds with heavy weight work, and losing pounds during the long season won't be a problem.

"I wanted to focus on weights and put weight on," said Ellison, vying for the fifth outfield spot. "I needed to keep my strength. I didn't just eat pizza, either. Just everything I worked on -- my core, the legs.

"It just makes you feel better out there, and when you feel good on the field, you're going to play well," said Ellison, whose wife, Raelena, and five-week-old daughter, Ariana, will arrive in town Tuesday.

Notes: Giants legend Willie Mays was in the clubhouse Saturday, but he'll be leaving for a reunion of former Birmingham Black Barons players next week. Mays was a 16-year-old player on the Negro Leagues squad in the late '40s. ... Felipe Alou's wife, Lucie, and family arrived in Scottsdale on Saturday, but 13-year-old son Felipe Alou Jr. was sick with a 104-degree temperature and spent part of the day in the trainer's room.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.