Hawkins joins Team USA roster
Astros reliever replaces Twins' Nathan, out with shoulder issue
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- LaTroy Hawkins will play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic as a last-minute replacement for an injured player.
Hawkins will take Joe Nathan's roster spot after the Twins right-hander realized his sore shoulder is a bit more of a concern than he originally believed.
Hawkins was contacted by Team USA pitching coach Marcel Lachemann on Sunday night, and while Hawkins was honored to be invited, he didn't immediately respond. He first needed to consult with his wife, Anita, who was on her way from Texas to Florida for a Spring Training visit, and he also called several baseball friends to hear their opinion on whether he should join Team USA or stick with the Astros this month.
Most of the responses favored playing in the Classic, including one from Jacque Jones, who played for the USA team during the 1996 Olympics. He also spoke with Matt Lawton and Eddie Guardado, who encouraged him to play in the Classic.
Hawkins was initially hesitant to leave Spring Training, mainly because he had never done that before and wasn't sure how comfortable he was with being away for so long.
"But the more I talked to people ... I called my grandfather, and my wife was like, 'You always wanted to do something in the Olympics, whether it's speed walking or something,'" Hawkins said with a laugh. "'So this is as close as you get.' I said, 'You've got a point.'"
Manager Cecil Cooper expressed his full endorsement of Hawkins playing in the Classic.
"It's great for him, and he's pretty excited about it, which is a good thing," Cooper said. "He's another representative for them, and it opens up a spot here for someone else to get more innings."
Hawkins will join Team USA in Clearwater, Fla., where it will train before opening Classic play in Toronto this weekend. He worked out with the Astros in Kissimmee on Monday and said he would try to get to Clearwater by the evening.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.