Buck at USA helm

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

Buck Martinez will guide slugger Barry Bonds and the rest of Team USA in the World Baseball Classic next March.

The former Blue Jays manager and TSN broadcaster will have at his disposal a much better array of talent than when he managed Toronto from 2001-02.

And showing once again what a small world baseball is, the two managers handing in the lineup cards before the Canada-U.S. matchup will be Ernie Whitt and Martinez, who formed such a successful catching platoon for the Jays from 1981-86.

Bob Watson of Major League Baseball indicated before Game 3 of the World Series in Houston that Martinez was his man, saying: "We haven't agreed on anything, but the guy I want to manage is Buck."

EXPRESSED INTEREST

Then, Lou Piniella, the former Tampa Bay Devil Days manager; Davey Johnson, who won a World Series with the New York Mets and Don Baylor, the original manager of the Colorado Rockies, expressed interest.

Martinez and some members of his star-studded lineup will be formally announced next week in Dallas at the annual winter meetings.

A total of 16 countries are involved in this inaugural event. Canada, USA, Mexico and South Africa are in the Arizona pool, with the top two teams advancing to the next round.

Whitt, who guided Canada through the Olympic qualifier in 2003 in Panama, during the Summer Games in Athens, and again last month when Canada finished second at the regional qualifier for the 2008 Olympics, was officially named earlier this week.


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