Blakely will
play for U.S.

Darren Blakely was in the mood to celebrate after the Brockton (Mass.) Rox won the Northeast League title with a three-game sweep of the North Shore (Lynn, Mass.) Spirit.

It afforded the former Hawaii baseball player his first championship ring.

And that was only half of it.

After securing the championship, Blakely was asked if he would be interested in playing for the United States World Cup team that will participate in the IABF World Cup in Havana, Cuba, Oct. 12-25.

He gave an emphatic "yes" to the question.

"I was on Cloud Nine," Blakely said then.

The following day, he had a magnetic resonance imaging test on his left knee. The results were negative, giving him even more reason to celebrate. He had to wait two weeks for the official invitation to come from USA Baseball, but it finally arrived this week.

"I am happy and excited. I've taken care of my passport and I'm just waiting to see what happens," said Blakely, who also had a tryout with the Chicago White Sox yesterday.

The U.S. team, selected from players competing in independent leagues this summer, will practice in Miami Oct. 5-6 then fly to Cuba on the seventh for more training.

The U.S. opens against Mexico on Oct. 12 at Holguin, Cuba. Other teams in the U.S. bracket are Brazil, Panama, France, China, Japan and The Netherlands.

The Americans play their first five pool games in Holguin, the next two in Santiago, with the final rounds scheduled for Havana.

The full, 24-player American roster will be announced early next month.

Released by the San Diego Padres in the final days of spring training, Blakely also played for the New Jersey Jackals in the Northeast League before being traded to Brockton. His combined totals included a .304 batting average, 29 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs and 66 runs batted in.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder was drafted as a junior out of UH by the Anaheim Angels in the fifth round. He was traded by the Angels to the New York Yankees in March 2001, then traded by the Yankees to San Diego in July 2001.


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