Longoria joins Team USA for semis
Rays' third baseman takes place of injured Braves slugger
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
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Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays will be donning the red, white and blue this weekend, replacing Chipper Jones on Team USA's roster for the semifinal round of the World Baseball Classic.
Team USA made the announcement Thursday night, bringing the 23-year-old third baseman to the rescue to help a roster that has been depleted by injury through the first two rounds. That includes Jones, who suffered an oblique muscle strain in his right side after playing in four games in the tournament.
"We're obviously disappointed to lose a player the caliber of Chipper Jones, but at the same time so very fortunate to add a player as talented as Evan Longoria," USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler said in a statement. "With the opportunity to make a roster change, Evan is too valuable not to have on our club."
Longoria, the unanimous choice for 2008 American League Rookie of the Year, hit 27 homers with 85 RBIs last year, helping lead the Rays to the World Series. An All-Star as a rookie, Longoria hit six postseason homers, including four in the American League Championship Series.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia (left side), first baseman Kevin Youkilis (sprained left ankle, left Achilles tendinitis) and reliever Matt Lindstrom (strained right rotator cuff) also were injured during the second round, which concluded Wednesday with the U.S. and Venezuela advancing from Miami's Pool 2 to the three-day finale of the Classic.
In the first semifinal at 9 p.m. ET Saturday, Venezuela will take on the runner-up from Pool 1, meaning the loser of Thursday's Japan-Korea game. Then Team USA will make its Classic semifinal debut against the Pool 1 winner at 8 p.m. Sunday.
The victors of those two games will meet for the World Baseball Classic title at 9 p.m. Monday at Dodger Stadium.