by Katie Woo
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ike Davis may be a veteran, but he has room for another baseball first.
Davis, 29, is looking to expand his seven- year big-league as a non-roster invitee with the Dodgers this spring. But now comes the first: He will compete in the World Baseball Classic for Israel, which is making its first WBC appearance.
Israel just missed qualifying for the last WBC, losing to Spain in extra-innings in the deciding game of the qualifier in September, 2012.
Davis was playing for the Mets then and wasn’t on the Israeli team. The opportunity to play for Israel this year excited him.
“Four years ago in September I was playing in the big leagues so I didn’t really have the chance to play with them, and then they didn’t qualify,” said Davis. “This (time) I was in the minor leagues and I got an opportunity to play in the end of September with them and it was a blast. It was a great opportunity.”
(Video by Guillermo Salcido/Cronkite News)
Gabe Kapler, the Dodgers director of player development, was a coach on Israel’s 2012 team.
“The 2012 experience was phenomenal,” Kapler said. “I got to know a great group of people, and we came very close to qualifying.
“It was very exciting also just to stand shoulder to shoulder with legends like Shawn Green and Brad Ausmus. It was quite an honor.”
Green played for Israel after a long and productive big-league career. Ausmus, a long-time catcher, was the manager for Team Israel. The next year, he assumed his current role as manager of the Detroit Tigers.
“A lot of people are focusing a lot of their attention and energy on building baseball in Israel and raising awareness for our sport in the country,” Davis said. “I think it’s great that we have an opportunity to compete on a grand stage in front of the world and express that the country of Israel is important for baseball.”
The majority of Team Israel is comprised of minor leaguers, and the team lacks big names. Israel will play in Seoul, South Korea, in Pool B, along with South Korea, Netherlands and Chinese Taipei.
Davis and Kapler say that simply qualifying for the WBC has been exciting for Israel.
“Obviously we’re going to have a blast and go out there and compete, try to win some games,” Davis said. “I think it’s going to be good for the country of Israel just to have some players in the spotlight like that playing for them, and maybe we can bring a little more excitement to baseball over there.”
Kapler said: “There’s no question that interest will rise based on Israel competing in the World Baseball Classic. I think that interest will get stronger as more young people in Israel see baseball being played as a representation of their home country.”