Two players from Windsor will represent Canada at the World Baseball Classic
It’s an understatement that Evan Rutckyj and Jacob Robson are excited to be named to Team Canada at the World Baseball Classic.
Rutckyj, a 31-year-old left-handed pitcher, and Robson, a 28-year-old outfielder, both from Windsor, will line up for Team Canada when action begins in Pool C on March 11 in Phoenix, AZ.
“It’s an absolute honor,” said Robson. “I remember watching the WBC in high school. It was a crazy environment. When I played in the minors, I realized that there are opportunities to play in this senior team. It was crazy to see it jumped on board in 2017. I am very grateful for the position.”
Robson, who played under the Detroit Tigers system, including four games with the big club, is now a free agent. Last season he played with the Kansas City Monarchs of the independent American Association of Professional Baseball. Not only is he proud to wear the maple leaf on his jersey; he also sees another opportunity in this.
“They obviously approach it with the mentality of helping the team in any way they can. We’re trying to win the tournament,” said Robson. “Playing with a lot of eyes in such a big tournament, who knows what can happen? There are teams from leagues around the world watching. It’s a great opportunity as a free agent.”
With that in mind, he’s ready to do whatever it takes to help Team Canada win.
“I’ve played long enough to know that I’ve had different roles on different teams,” Robson said. “I’m happy to take on any role that’s due me.”
Robson said he and Rutckyj prepared for the WBC by playing for the Australian Baseball League’s Melbourne Aces this winter.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Robson. “Evan and I never played together when we were younger. It was a great opportunity to really get to know each other. He was a great arm for us there. He was the guy.”
Rutckyj hopes it will continue and go to the WBC.
“I’m looking forward to playing against the best players in the world,” said Rutckyj. “We have USA in our pool, who are basically a major league all-star team. Every time you play against the best players in the world, you will be prepared for it. To test my stuff against these guys if I still have it.”
Rutckyj, who played in the New York Yankees system for seven years before playing with a number of teams in the independent minor league, will play for the Baseball Challenge League’s Niigata Albirex in Japan next season. He’s also just happy doing what he loves at the highest level.
“It’s truly my dream. My favorite thing in the whole world is to throw a ball,” said Rutckyj. “It was a great experience for me and my family. The places I could go, the people I could meet. It’s surreal.”
Team Canada is in Pool C with the United States, Mexico, Colombia and Great Britain. The pool action will take place March 11-15 at Chase Field, home of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Canada meets Great Britain on March 12th.
“If I have a prognosis we will be fighting for second place to go to the quarter-finals with Mexico and Colombia,” said Robson. “But the great thing about baseball is that anyone can beat anyone, any day.”