U.S. wants Buck

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

HOUSTON -- For six seasons, Buck Martinez and Ernie Whitt platooned as the Blue Jays' catchers.

If Bob Watson has his way, Martinez will manage Team USA against Whitt and Team Canada in the World Classic March 13-19 in Arizona.

After his playing career, Whitt went into coaching and on the side managed Team Canada to its first Olympic berth in 2004.

After his playing career, Martinez went into broadcasting and then managed the Jays.

"We haven't agreed on anything yet managerial wise, but the guy I want to manage is Buck," Watson said yesterday at Minute Maid Park. Watson wears many hats for Major League Baseball and one of them is putting together Team USA.

"I haven't been in a position to talk to players yet, but I think they will be honoured to represent the United States," Martinez said. "Like B.J. Surhoff has told me, the proudest moment of his baseball career was representing his country at the Olympics."

A total of 16 teams in four pools will play for the first World Classic title, which will have more talent available than the Olympics did. In the Olympics, countries were only able to use minor-leaguers. This time around, it's all healthy hands on deck.

"It's a tremendous honour to be considered," Martinez said. "I've known Bob Watson since 1978 when he was with the New York Yankees and I was playing for the Milwaukee Brewers. I've known him as a player, as a broadcaster and as a manager."

Whitt, who will run Team Canada, and Martinez would go head-to-head against each other as Canada and Team USA are in the Arizona pool along with Mexico and South Africa. The top two teams from each pool advance to the next round.

The semi-final and final will be played at San Diego's Petco Park.

The Canadian lineup was dealt a blow on Thursday when Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker of the St. Louis Cardinals said he was retiring.


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