The Israel Association of Baseball officially announced on Wednesday that former Major League All-Star Brad Ausmus would serve as Team Israel's manager and coach for the World Baseball Classic.
Ausmus, one of several Jewish ballplayers recruited by Israel, arrived here on Sunday to help train Israeli baseball players in a bid to qualify for baseball's equivalent of the World Cup.
He was introduced at a press conference in Petah Tikva, site of the Israel Association of Baseball's current league operations, where he donned a blue jersey with Israel written on the front.
"The Israel Association of Baseball is committed not only to putting the most competitive team possible on the field, but to leverage this opportunity to promote the great game of baseball, to strengthen the bonds between the North American Jewish and non-Jewish communities with Israel," said Haim Katz, president of the association.
After being approached numerous times by Katz, Ausmus agreed to help develop Israeli baseball. He will lead the effort to put together a team to play in a qualifying round of the World Baseball Classic, in hopes of competing in the worldwide tournament in 2013.
Ausmus and association officials expect the final roster to comprise both Israelis and Americans, though Ausmus has not received a formal deadline for the team's final roster.
"It's a unique situation for a team to be asked to play in the WBC, and at the same time to have the opportunity to draw most of its roster from professional ranks in the United States," Ausmus said Wednesday. "Baseball is a generational game," he added. "It's handed down from grandparents, to parents, to kids, and I think that's what we have to try and start here, for baseball to prosper in Israel."
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