U.S. selects Olympic qualifying baseball team

DURHAM, N.C. -- Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver and New York Mets outfielder Lastings Milledge were among 24 players picked Thursday for the U.S. baseball team.

The club, managed by Davey Johnson, will compete in qualifiers this month for the 2008 Olympics.

Six of the players appeared in the major leagues this year: Kansas City pitcher Jonah Bayliss, Washington infielder Brendan Harris, Angels catcher Jeff Mathis, Seattle pitcher Clint Nageotte, Colorado infielder Ryan Shealy and Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino.

Only players not on 25-man rosters as of Aug. 31 were eligible for the games, to be played at the spring training ballparks of the Cubs, Brewers and Athletics in Phoenix
and Mesa, Ariz.

The United States plays Canada (Nov. 15 at Maryvale), Mexico (Nov. 16 at Phoenix Municipal), Nicaragua (Nov. 17 at Maryvale),
Panama (Nov. 18 at HoHoKam) and Canada (Nov. 19 at Maryvale)

The top four teams advance to the Americas Olympic qualifying
tournament at Havana in August 2006, where they will be joined by
the top four qualifiers from both the Caribbean and South American
regions. The top two nations in that tournament advance to the 2008
Olympics, and the third- and fourth-place teams go to a secondary
qualifying event to be held in 2007.

The United States won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Games
but was eliminated by Mexico in qualifying for the 2004 Athens
Olympics. The IOC has voted to drop baseball following the 2008
Beijing Games, but the International Baseball Federation is pushing
for a new vote next year.

The full roster:

Pitchers -- Stephen Andrade, rhp (Toronto); Jonah Bayliss, rhp (Kansas City); Dave Haehnel, lhp (Baltimore); Chris Lambert, rhp (St. Louis); Jim Miller, rhp (Colorado); Bill Murphy, lhp (Arizona); Clint Nageotte, rhp (Seattle); Brian Sanches, rhp (Philadelphia); Matt Smith, lhp (New York Yankees); Nick Ungs, rhp (Florida); Jered Weaver, rhp (Los Angeles Angels); Stephen White, rhp (Yankees).

Catchers -- Jeff Mathis (Angels); Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Atlanta).

Infielders -- Travis Hanson (St. Louis); Brendan Harris (Washington); Howie Kendrick (Angels), Bryan LaHair
(Seattle); Ryan Shealy (Colorado); Brandon Wood (Angels).

Outfielders -- Billy Butler (Kansas City); Lastings Milledge (New York Mets); Brad Snyder (Cleveland); Shane Victorino (Philadelphia).