Team USA will play their first game in the World Cup/Pan Am tournament on Sunday evening in Panama City, Panama. The team features Pirates’ farmhand infielder Jordy Mercer, who split the 2011 season between the Altoona Curve and the Indianapolis Indians. Also on Team USA is catcher Travis d’Arnaud, brother of Pirates’ Chase d’Arnaud. Travis d’Arnaud played at the AA level in the Blue Jays’ organization in 2011. Former Pirates’ farmhand RHP Todd Redmond, who pitched for the AAA Charlotte Knights (White Sox) in 2011 is also on the team.
Team USA faced off against Team Canada in three warm-up/exhibition games last week. In the first game, which went only 7 innings, the teams played to a 1-1 tie. Todd Redmond pitched 3 scoreless innings in his start for Team USA. He gave up a double in the 2nd inning and a pair of singles in the 3rd, while striking out 5 batters. Matt Shoemaker (Angels) relieved Redmond to begin the 4th inning. Canada got onto the scoreboard in that inning, scoring one run on a double and a single. SS Jordy Mercer singled in both the 3rd and the 6th innings for the US, but was left on base both times. Team USA tied the score in the top of the 7th, on a solo homer by 1B Matt Clark (Padres). C Travis d’Arnaud went 0-for-2 in the game. Former Pirate farmhand Jamie Romak played third base for Team Canada. He was hitless in 3 trips to the plate.
When the two teams faced off again on Wednesday, Team USA beat Canada 3-1. Both teams were scoreless for the first three innings, but Team USA got onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the 4th. A walk by DH Clark and a double by 1B Chad Tracy (Rangers) gave the US two runners in scoring position before an out was recorded. An RBI ground out by 3B Tommy Mendonca (Rangers) scored Clark and an RBI single by RF AJ Pollock (Diamondbacks) brought in Tracy, giving the US a 2-0 lead. CF Jordan Danks (White Sox) singled and stole second base to lead off the bottom of the 7th, then scored on LF Brett Carroll’s (Red Sox) RBI single. Jordy Mercer did not start this game, but came into the game in the top of the 7th to play shortstop. He singled in the 8th inning, and was out in a double play. Three USA pitchers kept the Canadians from scoring in the first 8 innings of the game. Andy Ven Hekken (Astros) pitched 3 scoreless innings, Jeff Marquez (Yankees) added another 3 scoreless innings, and Justin Cassel (White Sox) pitched 2 scoreless frames. Canada’s only run was a solo home run in the top of the 9th off reliever Jeff Beliveau (Cubs). Jamie Romak played both third and first base, and had a single in the 2nd inning. Another former Pirate farmhand, reliever Dustin Molleken pitched the 8th and 9th innings for Canada. He gave up two hits and a walk, but did not allow a run to score.
The final exhibition game, played on Thursday, went to Team USA, 2-1. The US jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a run in each of the first two innings. LF Brett Jackson (Cubs) opened the game with a single up the middle, then 2B Joe Thurston (Marlins) was hit by a pitch. After a double steal put both runners into scoring position, DH Chad Tracy drove in Jackson with a sacrifice fly. Three consecutive singles in the 2nd inning drove in the US’s second run — RF Jordan Danks, 2B Tommy Mendonca, and CF AJ Pollock had the singles, with Pollock picking up the RBI. RF Jamie Romak scored Canada’s only run in the 5th inning. Romak walked, then another walk and a hit batter loaded the bases with two outs. SS Jonathan Malo hit an infield single to second base, plating Romak. SS Jordy Mercer went 0-for-3 in the game, as did C/DH Travis d’Arnaud. Before the game, D’Arnaud was presented with a minor league catcher of the year award.
More familiar players on other tournament teams:
Pitcher Runelvys Hernandez, who pitched in a few games for the Indianapolis Indians in 2007, is pitching for the Dominican Republic.
Former Pirate farmhand pitcher Paul Mildren is on Team Australia.
Pirate minor leaguer Eliecer Navarro (Bradenton and West Virginia in 2011) is pitching for his native Panama. Panama’s team is managed by former Indianapolis Indians’ catcher (2007) Einar Diaz. Diaz’s playing career ended that season after he injured his knee when his foot slipped as he crossed home plate in a game in Indianapolis.
Former Indy Indians Luis Figueroa (2004) and Cesar Crespo (2005) will be in the infield for Puerto Rico.