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3 ex-major leaguers sign on to help Israel’s World Classic squad

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NEW YORK (JTA) — Three Jewish former major leaguers will try to help Israel field a competitive team in its bid to qualify for the World Baseball Classic.

Shawn Green, Brad Ausmus and Gabe Kapler met last week in Los Angeles with Israeli baseball officials and promised to help out, the players told The Associated Press.

It is unclear whether any of the three would play for Israel themselves, the AP reported, though Green said he would help "in any capacity."

"If I felt like that was a role that the team needed, I would prepare for it," he told the AP, adding that "I feel a strong connection to Israel and it would be an honor to put on the uniform."

Peter Kurz, the Israel Association of Baseball’s secretary-general, told the AP that one of the three former ballplayers will likely be the Israeli team’s manager, and that all of them will help with coaching, recruiting and fundraising.

Israel will be one of 16 countries invited to play in next year’s qualifying round, and the top four teams advance to the 2013 classic.

"Today, the idea of bridging the gap between the generations of American-Jewish baseball fans and baseball fans in Israel is an enticing prospect," Ausmus wrote in an e-mail cited by the AP. "Hopefully this is the beginning of a renewed and long interest in baseball in Israel."

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