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Dempster to start for Canada vs. USA

Former MLB right-hander pitched 2 innings in Pool C opener on Thursday
MLB.com

MIAMI -- The World Baseball Classic, it seems, will reach a new level of crazy tonight.

Ryan Dempster, who was pitching on 1,232 days' rest when he started against the Dominican Republic on Thursday, will be Canada's starting pitcher against Team USA on Sunday, the team announced.

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MIAMI -- The World Baseball Classic, it seems, will reach a new level of crazy tonight.

Ryan Dempster, who was pitching on 1,232 days' rest when he started against the Dominican Republic on Thursday, will be Canada's starting pitcher against Team USA on Sunday, the team announced.

View Full Game Coverage

Dempster threw 49 pitches in two innings on Thursday but said afterward that he hoped he'd get a chance to pitch again in the Classic. He'll face Royals lefty Danny Duffy, who finds it amazing any pitcher could bounce back that quickly from such a high-stress outing as the one Dempster just pitched.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

"I think that he's got to have some kind of recovery, man,'' Duffy said "If he said that he could bounce back [to pitch again], I mean, [I] tip my cap, man. That's gnarly.''

Dempster, a 16-year Major Leaguer who turns 40 in May, works as a special assistant for the Cubs and an analyst for MLB Network. He hadn't pitched since making a World Series appearance for Boston in 2013, and is making a one-time comeback only for WBC '17.

Dempster trained to represent his country, and became the Game 1 starter for Canada, which lacks current Major Leaguers on its pitching staff. His fastball was clocked as high as 91 mph, but he was still hit hard by the powerful Dominican lineup, allowing four runs on seven hits in two innings.

"I kept waiting for the pitcher to hit,'' Dempster said. "He never hit, and that got really tough.''

Duffy was impressed with Dempster's stuff.

"He looked good out there,'' Duffy said. "He's taken a couple years off and goodness gracious, he looked really good.''

Former Cy Young winner Eric Gagne is also on Canada's staff. He cannot pitch against Team USA on Sunday because he threw 33 pitches in Canada's 4-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday. He threw in the mid-90s, showcasing himself for scouts. One scout predicted Gagne will be signed by a Major League team in need of bullpen help.

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Phil Rogers is a national columnist for MLB.com.

Canada, Ryan Dempster