DUNEDIN, Fla. — Moises Sierra is the latest Toronto Blue Jays addition to the World Baseball Classic as he was named to the Dominican Republic’s roster Monday.
The 24-year-old right-fielder, who hit six home runs in 49 big-league games last year, joins teammates Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion on his national squad, and will be part of an outfield that also includes Nelson Cruz and Carlos Gomez.
Sierra will be making his first ever appearance on a Dominican national team, and said he was uncertain how much playing time he will get at the tournament. He wasn’t too concerned about that.
“I’m very happy and excited,” Sierra said during a brief interview. “That’s good for me, I think I’ll learn a lot.”
He’s the eighth player in the Blue Jays system headed to the tournament.
Aside from the Dominican contingent, Brett Lawrie, Adam Loewen and Trystan Magnuson will play for Canada, while R.A. Dickey and J.P. Arencibia will suit up for the United States.
The Blue Jays’ total might have been higher, but Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera and Esmil Rogers all turned down invitations from the Dominican Republic, while Henry Blanco said no to Venezuela.
COOPER’S STATUS: The back problems forcing David Cooper to miss training camp originated last August when he injured himself on awkward slide back into first base at Detroit.
The first baseman will consult with experts on why the injury hasn’t healed yet, and more information on that front may be available later in the week.
In the interim, his absence means the tentative plan at triple-A Buffalo is for Luis Jimenez, Adam Loewen and Andy LaRoche to share duties there, although the Blue Jays are likely to scour the market for any end-of-spring cuts that will give them more depth.
They have a sufficient number of options at the big-league level between Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and in a pinch Jose Bautista and Mark DeRosa, but a team can never have enough depth.
VETERAN INFLUENCE: Mark DeRosa took balls alongside third baseman Brett Lawrie during the club’s defensive work Monday, and there’s hope by pairing them together the sage veteran will have a positive influence on the exuberant youngster.
“Mark, that’s his reputation, a great teammate, he gets the most out of guys, he’s one of those guys you never hear a bad thing about, guys want him on their club,” said manager John Gibbons. “Guys that aren’t good at something, they don’t hang around. He can shed some light and some experience on Brett and that will do wonders because Brett is still a young kid, still learning at this level.”
SHORT HOPS: Brandon Morrow will start the club’s Grapefruit League opener Saturday at Lakeland against the Detroit Tigers. He’s expected to throw one inning. … The Canadian national team for the World Baseball Classic is expected to announce a replacement for right-hander Nick Bucci on Tuesday. The Milwaukee Brewers prospect, named to the team when Scott Richmond suffered a knee injury with his South Korean team, experienced some elbow soreness during a recent side session that was cut short. Canada is leaning toward adding another left-handed arm.