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Inside Baseball

April 28, 2003
April 28, 2003

Table of Contents
April 28, 2003

Motor Sports

Inside Baseball

Global Warming
Momentum builds for a World Cup that would determine
international bragging rights among major leaguers

This is an article from the April 28, 2003 issue Original Layout

The enthusiastic reception that major league baseball received in
Puerto Rico has moved the game one step closer to turning a pipe
dream--a World Cup tournament--into reality. "Every success we
have internationally adds to the interest of a World Cup," says
Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's president and COO. "The
experiment in Puerto Rico is serving as another catalyst." The
Expos' first home stand in San Juan, which ended on Sunday, drew
142,821 fans for the 10 games. Twelve more games will be played
at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

In the meantime Major League Baseball International is moving
ahead with plans for an inaugural World Cup to take place as
early as 2005. The field would consist of teams from eight to 16
countries (including the commonwealth of Puerto Rico) and would
be played over a two-week stretch, most likely during spring
training and in stadiums across the U.S. Over the past two years
MLB International has talked with leagues in six countries,
which were all receptive to the idea.

"I think it would be fun, a great experience," says Mariners
designated hitter Edgar Martinez, who adds that even though he
was born in New York City, he wants to play for Puerto Rico
because he was raised there. "Just to be able to compete at that
level would be something."

One of the major issues to be resolved is the timing of the
event. Interrupting the the regular season to hold the World Cup
is viewed by owners as too disruptive, and players don't want it
to cut into their off-season. That's why holding the tournament
around spring training is the best possible scenario.

In addition to a World Cup, MLB International is pursuing a
number of other global initiatives. Baseball is hoping to start
the 2004 season in Japan, and also in the works are
regular-season series in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. In
addition regular-season games in Europe are being discussed for
as soon as 2004. "Baseball is an international game," says
DuPuy, "and we still have a lot we can do to embrace that."

How They Stack Up
Here are the potential lineups for the top four teams in a
proposed World Cup, if it were played in 2005

United States
A rotation of Barry Zito, Mark Prior, Roy Oswalt, Mark Mulder and
Derek Lowe would be the strength of Team USA.

Pos. Name

CF TORII HUNTER
LF LANCE BERKMAN
SS ALEX RODRIGUEZ
DH JASON GIAMBI
1B TODD HELTON
RF SHAWN GREEN
3B ERIC CHAVEZ
C JASON VARITEK
2B BRANDON PHILLIPS
SP BARRY ZITO
SP MARK PRIOR
RP BILLY KOCH

Dominican Republic
With this potent lineup and stellar pitching, the Dominicans
would be World Cup favorites.

Pos. Name

2B ALFONSO SORIANO
SS MIGUEL TEJADA
CF VLADIMIR GUERRERO
DH MANNY RAMIREZ
RF SAMMY SOSA
LF ALBERT PUJOLS
3B ARAMIS RAMIREZ
1B CARLOS PEnA
C MIGUEL OLIVO
SP PEDRO MARTINEZ
SP BARTOLO COLON
RP OCTAVIO DOTEL

Japan
If the rest of these Japanese hitters adapted to major league
pitching like Ichiro did, this team would be the dark horse.

Pos. Name

RF ICHIRO SUZUKI
SS KAZUO MATSUI
LF HIDEKI MATSUI
1B MICHIHIRO OGASAWARA
3B NORIHIRO NAKAMURA
DH NOBUHIKO MATSUNAKA
C KENJI JOHJIMA
2B TADAHITO IGUCHI
CF YOSHITOMO TANI
SP HIDEO NOMO
SP TOMO OHKA
RP MASAHIDE KOBAYASHI

Puerto Rico
While this lineup would measure up to any other in the world, the
suspect pitching would be the team's Achilles' heel.

Pos. Name

CF CARLOS BELTRAN
LF BERNIE WILLIAMS
1B CARLOS DELGADO
RF JUAN GONZALEZ
DH JORGE POSADA
C PUDGE RODRIGUEZ
3B MIKE LOWELL
2B JOSE VIDRO
SS JOSE VALENTIN
SP JAVIER VAZQUEZ
SP JOEL PInIERO
RP J.C. ROMERO

Cincinnati's Austin Kearns
Bulked Up and Hitting Homers

A few days before the 1998 draft Reds general manager Jim Bowden,
accompanied by a dozen team staffers, made the 90-mile drive from
Cincinnati to Lexington, Ky., to scout Lafayette High senior
Austin Kearns. After his game ended, Kearns grabbed a wood bat
for a special session of BP, and he gave Bowden and his entourage
quite a show: Kearns launched a dozen balls--seven straight at
one point--onto the school roof beyond the outfield. "I got in
the car and said, 'He's Mike Piazza. We're going to take him,'"
says Bowden, who drafted Kearns with the No. 7 pick.

Five years later Kearns is making Bowden look awfully smart. The
22-year-old outfielder had a major-league-high nine home runs
through Sunday, while hitting .292 with 19 RBIs. He should easily
surpass his rookie-year production of 13 home runs and 56 RBIs in
2002, when he also hit .315 in 107 games before missing the last
month of the season with an injured left hamstring.

This season Kearns has been showcasing home run power, which is
partly the result of rigorous off-season workouts with a
personal trainer. "It's probably the hardest I've ever worked
out with weights," says the 6'3" Kearns, who added 25 pounds to
get up to 246. "I can see a big difference."

Kearns's rapid ascent through the ranks of National League
hitters is one of the few positive story lines for struggling
Cincinnati, which was 6-13 at week's end. In addition to dealing
with yet another serious injury to Ken Griffey Jr. (out until at
least next month with a dislocated right shoulder), the Reds were
suffering through righthander Danny Graves's conversion from
closer to starter; he was 0-2 with an 8.02 ERA in his four
appearances in the rotation. At least Kearns's performance has
the club feeling better about the future. "He's a very special
talent," says Bowden. "I think he can develop into a Hall of
Famer."

COLOR PHOTO: THOMAS B. SHEA/ISM Todd HeltonCOLOR PHOTO: DOUG PENSINGER/GETTY IMAGES Pedro MartinezCOLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON Hideki MatsuiCOLOR PHOTO: STAN HONDA/AFP Carlos DelgadoCOLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON (KEARNS) An extra 25 pounds has given Kearns a power boost.