Chicago White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis will play for Israel’s team in the upcoming World Baseball Classic (WBC) if he is healthy enough to do so, Israel Sports Radio reported Aug. 22.
Israel will be among 16 countries participating in the qualifying stage of the international tournament this September, with the top four advancing to the WBC in March 2013. Diaspora Jews are eligible to play on Israel’s team, and Youkilis told the radio station that there are other Major League Baseball players looking to take the field for the Jewish state. Already, former Jewish Major Leaguers Brad Ausmus, Gabe Kapler, and Shawn Green are assisting the Israeli squad with coaching, recruiting and fundraising, with Green possibly playing on a limited basis.
“[Israel’s Word Baseball Classic team] impacts the North American and Israeli Jewish communities more than the athletes themselves,” Kapler told JNS last year. “Those people are going to be psyched. It’s worth dreaming about what could happen because this creates momentum and excitement, which in turn gets more people who want to participate [in the Israeli team’s efforts].”
Youkilis, who made three All-Star teams and won two World Series titles during his time with the Boston Red Sox before he was traded this season, is currently hitting .241 with 15 home runs and 47 runs batted.
Israel’s first qualifying game is Sept. 19 against South Africa, and other members of its qualifying round group include Spain and France.