Stern set to answer opportunity's knock

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

Adam Stern is planning on playing a lot of baseball this year.

All he needs to do is stay healthy and make an impression on his Boston Red Sox employers.

The London native is looking forward to spring training. With big changes in the Red Sox organization during the winter and team leader Johnny Damon having signed with the arch-rival New York Yankees, he's listed at the top of the Red Sox outfield depth chart.

To add to the anticipation of the spring, Stern was selected to Canada's World Baseball Classic team, an inaugural tournament where most of the globe's top teams and many top players will participate. Pools will be played in several cities and countries with the final in the United States.

Canada's roster includes Jason Bay and Justin Morneau and starting pitchers Erik Bedard and Jeff Francis. Baseball Canada also named Corey Koskie, Matt Stairs, Pete Laforest, Paul Quantrill and Rheal Cormier to the team for the March event.

"I loved the Olympics and this is crazy, man," Stern said. "The best players in Canada are going to play. Now there's no excuses. People are saying they didn't send their best players. Now this is a big stage and the best players are going to be there."

Stern was on Canada's Olympic team and detects the same type of pride in playing for Canada as hockey players have.

"I know Canadians and we have the most pride ever, whether it's hockey or baseball," Stern said. "We all convened in Toronto (Sunday) and you get the same sense of what everyone's meant to do and what our goal is. We get a hard time about Canadians being able to play baseball. We're about to put an end to that."

The only question mark on whether he would be able to participate in the tournament was off-season shoulder surgery.

"I didn't know if the Red Sox were going to let me go," Stern said. "But it was minor shoulder surgery and I've been hitting and throwing every day for 2 1/2 months. Greg Hamilton, the director of Baseball Canada, called and said, 'There's a spot with your name on it, do you want it?' I said, 'Man, you don't have to ask me twice.' "

Injuries and veteran players have prevented Stern from getting a lot of playing time the last two years, but his speed and defence are something often in short supply. With all the changes, he's looking for a chance to really prove himself.

"We'll all have to wear name tags. There's a lot of new names coming in," he said. "With Johnny moving on, it's definitely a lot more open. But you just go into spring training thinking you have to win a job and you see what happens.

"They know I need more playing time. I just want a chance to show want I can do."


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