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Chris Archer hopes the U.S. World Baseball Classic team can unite America

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Chris Archer and Team U.S.A. begin play in the World Baseball Classic on Friday. They stand as good a chance at winning as the U.S. team ever does. That chance: decent enough, given their talent, even if they don’t have the best available U.S. talent.

Archer, however, has greater aspirations for the Team U.S.A. than merely winning the WBC. He wants it to help unite America. At least for a while. Via ESPN.com:

“Given the timing and the circumstances of our country, I think it’s a great opportunity for us, temporarily, to show we are united, regardless of the turmoil and things going on here and other places in the world. So it’s always been a dream. And what’s going on in the country right now makes it even better.”

Archer didn’t get super specific about that turmoil, but he expanded a bit on what he hoped the U.S. team could show:

“Just that we are all unified, at least in my opinion. And it is a beautiful country of diversity and freedom and a lot of other things that other countries don’t have. So for this moment in time, for this next two weeks, we’re going to put on this jersey with pride and show we’re diverse, we’re united, and what USA is really all about.”

It’s an admirable sentiment. And the idea that sports can help unify people is an admirable aspiration.

I suspect, however, that a baseball tournament that many actual baseball players don’t care about isn’t going to register very strongly with a great number of Americans. And I fear that our divisions are so strong that virtually nothing can break through them. At least for the time being.

 

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.