Amid the parade of non-roster invitees fighting to make major league clubs -- and players whose jersey number resembles an offensive lineman's -- dotting fields across Florida and Arizona, baseball games that count for something have begun.
Australia and Chinese Taipei kicked off the 2013 World Baseball Classic Friday. Three more games will be played today, and soon, six members of the Pirates organization will leave camp to play for their countries.
"You're getting some good-caliber baseball," said Jason Grilli, who will pitch for Team Italy. "Spring training games and statistics don't go on the back of your baseball card. If it can help you get locked into that mode, or get a bad one out of the way early, there's a lot of advantages depending on how you go about it."
Jameson Taillon and Chris Leroux will pitch for Canada. Catcher Ali Solis, a non-roster invitee, will play for Mexico, and Wandy Rodriguez will play for the Dominican Republic. Minor-league infielder Stefan Welch is on Team Australia.
Taillon, the Pirates' top pick in the 2010 draft, said he hopes to glean information from the rest of Canada's roster, which includes Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto and Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie.
"Getting around those type of guys always helps," Taillon said. "If you can play with them, see what guys in other organizations do, maybe if I can pick up a couple things that other guys do, I can take it forward with me into the season."
Though Taillon was born in Florida, his parents were born in Canada. Leroux was born in Montreal and played high school ball in Canada, so he knows most of the team.
"Our starting pitching, obviously me and [Taillon] have all the ability in the world, but nobody really knows that," Leroux said. "I think we're going to show some people that we can pitch, and our bullpen's really strong, our lineup's really strong. I think it's up to me and [Taillon] to go in there and do well."


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