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The South African entry in the World Baseball Classic is training at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, spring home of the Athletics. (Christian Petersen/Getty)South Africans begin crash course PHOENIX -- They stood under a searing afternoon sun and dug their cleats into grass so green, it could\'ve been painted, not... 顯示更多 The South African entry in the World Baseball Classic is training at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, spring home of the Athletics. (Christian Petersen/Getty)South Africans begin crash course


PHOENIX -- They stood under a searing afternoon sun and dug their cleats into grass so green, it could\'ve been painted, not grown.
Carpenters, plumbers, construction workers.

Ballplayers.

As they overran Phoenix Municipal Stadium, in their floppy shorts and black socks pulled up to their knees, Paul Rutgers stood at shortstop and called out in heavily-accented English, \"Welcome to the big leagues.\"

It\'s as big as anyone playing baseball in South Africa had ever dared dream.

The World Baseball Classic is already a success. The skeptics and cynics can call it a day. Any event that sits a wide-eyed 19-year-old left-hander from Capetown on the same bench once occupied by Reggie Jackson is a smash.

If you listened carefully Monday afternoon through balls popping into mitts and bats cracking pepper choppers, you could hear the Earth shrivel like a ball of wool thrown into the dryer.

They had arrived here, three-dozen strong, over the weekend. Now they began their crash course in uptown baseball at the Oakland A\'s Spring Training camp, after the regular tenants were done for the day.

Team South Africa stretched and sprinted and went through the dreaded pitchers-cover-first drill under the all-encompassing eyes of manager Rick Magnante.

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