World Baseball Classic Qualifying Round Begins, Former Red Sox Involved

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: Gabe Kapler #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on during a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

The World Baseball Classic isn't happening in its full glory just yet, but the first of four qualifying rounds has opened up. Four teams -- Spain, Israel, South Africa, and France -- are playing in Jupiter, Florida, for the chance to be in the full WBC tournament. Besides the fact that it's fun to watch the WBC, baseball's version of the World Cup, there are a few former Red Sox involved in the qualifying round.

While the rest of the former Sox involved are working in coaching, Gabe Kapler is actually playing for Israel as an outfielder. The 36-year-old played with the Red Sox from 2003 through 2006, and while he didn't hit well while in Boston, he was a versatile outfielder and strong defensive player in his time here, useful in a part-time role in 2003 after coming over from the Rockies.

Former Sox second baseman Mark Loretta is the hitting coach for Israel, and while not a former Sox, Brad Ausmus is the manager. Ausmus is currently the assistant to the general manager in San Diego, and is considered a candidate to manage in the majors at some point. He's a former well-regarded backstop who had a lengthy career in the majors, and has experience working in a front office

Eric Gagne is the pitching coach for France, and while that might elicit jokes about how awful the nation's pitching will be, remember that the reason Gagne sticks out as such an awful player for Boston is because of how fantastic he was prior to his acquisition. Plus, it's not as if being good or bad as a pitcher ever meant much in terms of coaching success.

Baseball America has the full rosters up, if you're feeling curious. The World Baseball Classic, in its entirety, will begin in March of 2013, but qualifiers will be played for the next two months.

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