The start of France’s D1 baseball league may be a month away still, but for many of the competition’s best players – those that got the call-up to join the men’s national team – the offseason ends right about… now!
In fact, Les Bleus are gathering as we speak and jetting off to the Canary Islands, where starting Sunday they’ll play six games in six days in a tournament called the Tenerife Spring Cup 2022.
This is the group’s first opportunity to take the field since their disappointing finish, last September, in the European Baseball Champions in northern Italy.
Les Bleus went 2-4 in that competition and finished 15th out of 16 teams. France was relegated, as a result, from Europe’s “A Pool,” meaning they don’t qualify automatically for the next European Championships, in 2023.
Instead they’ll have to fight their way into the competition via a series of qualifier games this July, in Bulgaria, against the national teams of Bulgaria, Ireland, Slovenia and Georgia.
The upcoming Tenerife tournament won’t count toward France’s goal of getting back into the top tier of European baseball. But it will give the team a chance to take stock of where they’re at, as a group, and hopefully develop some much needed chemistry and momentum.
Facing them in the Tenerife Spring Cup will be the Tenerife Marlins, one of Spain’s top club teams, and the Czech national team, which finished 5th in the last European Championships and is currently ranked 14th in the world (according to the WBSC).
French baseball’s governing body, the FFBS, recently released the full French roster for the event. Like in last year’s European Championships, the group will be managed by former Rouen Huskies skipper (and pitcher) Keino Perez.
Notable absences include Andy Paz, who led Les Bleus in hits last September, as well as Paolo Brossier and Léo Jiminian, who are both playing for university teams in the United States right now.
Additions to the squad include Victorien Roze of the Metz Cometz, Rouen’s Hugo Blondel, and Kenny Esposito, who played for the Montpellier Barracudas in 2021 but will join the Toulouse Tigers this year (along with fellow national team member Nolan Soliveres).
For the full list of players, click here.
Team France plays Sunday and Monday against the Marlins, followed by three straight games (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) against the Czechs. They’ll play their final game Friday, March 18, against Tenerife. All of the games have 4:30 p.m. start times.
Allez Les Bleus!