LOS ANGELES -- Chris Woodward and Josh Bard, members of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts' new coaching staff, are currently halfway around the world, doing their part in the globalization of baseball.Woodward will be the Dodgers' third-base coach when Spring Training opens, Bard the bullpen coach. But for the next two
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Woodward and Josh Bard, members of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts' new coaching staff, are currently halfway around the world, doing their part in the globalization of baseball.
Woodward will be the Dodgers' third-base coach when Spring Training opens, Bard the bullpen coach. But for the next two weeks, Woodward is manager and Bard his coach on the New Zealand national team, which competes in the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Sydney, Australia, next week. The pair played together in the Seattle organization in 2010.
Infield farmhand Angelo Songco is the other Dodger participating as one of two affiliated players on Team Philippines. Australia and South Africa are the other teams in the qualifier, with the winner advancing to the World Baseball Classic in March 2017.
Woodward was a coach for Team New Zealand when it went 2-2 and was unable to advance from the qualifier for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. His current squad includes affiliated players Max Brown, an outfielder with Arizona, and Nick Maronde, a left-handed pitcher with Cleveland.
"I'm not a Kiwi, but participating in this tournament is really intriguing," said Woodward, who came to the Dodgers after serving as an infield coach with Seattle. "The guy that runs Team New Zealand, Ryan Glynn, is in a relentless pursuit to push his program forward. Baseball is almost nonexistent in New Zealand. It's rugby, cricket and fast-pitch softball. It's weird being in a country that places no priority on baseball. But MLB sent me here first as an ambassador to promote the game. It's a blank slate, different than anywhere I've ever been. And I fell in love with the country."
Woodward and Bard will spend the next week conducting a mini training camp in Auckland, then the team travels to Australia for the tournament. They will return to the United States just in time to report to Camelback Ranch-Glendale for Roberts' first Spring Training as manager.
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Woodward has no direct ties to Roberts, "but I played against him my whole career, and we have a similar mindset in the way we work," he said. "Seattle and San Diego shared a Spring complex [in Peoria, Ariz.], and I got to know him a little. I've been intrigued watching his progression as a first-base coach, then bench coach and now manager. I admire the way he's handled himself. It wasn't shocking he got the job."
Woodward said he is energized being part of an organization willing to go outside the box to improve.
"I'm really excited working alongside these talented people that have similar beliefs about creating a championship team and are willing to explore new ideas," he said. "It's inspiring to pick their brains on how to be successful."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.