WHEN the Philippines makes its debut in the World Baseball Classic, no less than major league star Johnny Damon will be standing in its way.
Damon, who spent parts of his pro career with the Boston Red Sox’s 2004 World Series champions and their fierce rivals New York Yankees, will be suiting up for Thailand in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers set November 15 to 18 in Taiwan.
Although in the twilight of his career at age 39, Damon is still expected to shine when he makes his debut for Thailand in the World Baseball Classic on November 15 against a Philippine side reinforced by foreign-based players from the US minor leagues and the Japan league.
Damon, who played for the Cleveland Indians in the last Major League Baseball season, is eligible to play for the Philippines’ Southeast Asian neighbor in the qualifiers. His mother is Thai.
The major league outfielder began practicing with Thailand on Tuesday at its Klong 6 practice venue, according to Thailand-based English newspaper The Nation.
He will be sent to bat against a souped-up Philippine side to be led by former San Francisco relief pitcher Geno Espineli and Fil-Japanese Ryuya Ogawa. For the full story on the PH lineup click here.
"Johnny will not only play for our team but will also take part in a lot of activities, including charity events, in Thailand," Chaiyawat Chaiwannajinda, deputy secretary general of the Thai Amateur Baseball Association, told The Nation.
It is not the first time that Damon has been to Thailand as he was involved in a charity event in his mother's homeland in 2007.
Thailand will be renewing its rivalry with the Philippines in Southeast Asia. The Thais claimed the baseball gold for the first time in SEA Games in 2007 against the Filipinos, who only regained supremacy in the region in 2011.