Former Major League catcher Brad Ausmus was named Israel's coach for the World Baseball Classic on Monday -- and he expects his team to surprise some people.
The former All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner said he has already received commitments from former Major Leaguers Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler. Ausmus also hopes to recruit other Jewish big leaguers, such as Ryan Braun, Kevin Youkilis and Ian Kinsler.
World Baseball Classic rules permit countries to field players who are eligible for citizenship in that country, regardless of whether they are actual citizens or not. For Israel, that means it could potentially land Major Leaguers like Braun, Youkilis and Kinsler, as well as Ike Davis, Jason Marquis, Sam Fuld, Danny Valencia and Scott Feldman.
In November, Israel will compete in the WBC Qualifiers in Jupiter, Fla., as part of a four-team group that also includes France, South Africa and Spain. The winner of that group, along with the winners of three other groups will join 12 already qualified countries to make up the 16-team field for the 2013 competition.
As for the two players already committed to Israel, Green last played in the Majors in 2007, while Kapler retired in 2010. Green, a two-time All-Star, hit 328 career home runs, breaking the 40-homer plateau in three separate seasons. Kapler, meanwhile, hit .268 with 82 homers over 12 Major League seasons with six different teams.
Ausmus retired as a Dodger in 2010 after 18 big league seasons, 10 of which were spent with the Astros. He currently works as a special assistant for the Padres.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.