Baseball: Australia desperate to win at home

Australian team confers during the World Baseball Classic. Photo / Getty Images
Australian team confers during the World Baseball Classic. Photo / Getty Images

Australia desperately wants to play in the World Baseball Classic finals as a number of players will use upcoming qualifiers to kickstart their push to crack the big leagues in 2016.

Australia hosts lower-ranked New Zealand, South Africa and the Philippines in WBC qualifying in Sydney this week where they will compete for a spot in the main tournament in 2017.

The home side has named a powerful 28-man squad, including nine players affiliated to American Major League clubs.

Veteran pitcher Peter Moylan, who recently gained a minor league contract with 2015 world series champions Kansas City Royals, is backing himself to push for a spot on the club's main roster.

His signing comes after a solid last season with the Atlanta Braves where he relief pitched in 22 games in the top league.

"(Last year) I proved to myself I could still pitch at that level," the 37-year-old told AAP.

"I feel confident going into this year that I can put in Kansas City's mind that I'm able to pitch at the level.

"If they need me, I'll be there."

The veteran believes he is in good shape after recently undergoing a second surgery for an elbow injury and says form, rather than fitness, will determine his success this year.

"I don't think my body's going to be the issue," he said.

"It'll be just getting the opportunity to pitch and what other guys are there."

In contrast, 19-year-old outfielder Aaron Whitefield is vying to become Australia's 32nd player to crack the majors after gaining a contract to play with a Minnesota Twins affiliate.

Whitefield is using the Australian camp to learn from more experienced players who have made it to the top.

"It's good to hear their story and learn from their careers," he said.

"Picking up things and my body growing out, I hope in a couple of years' time I've made it."

Australian team manager Jon Deeble is warning his side are in for a struggle in the games, despite being ranked well above the other three nations.

Pitcher Steven Kent, who is contracted with the Atlanta Braves and plays in the minors, agrees the games will be tough.

But he says Australia expects to qualify.

"We won't really accept anything but winning and going through to the main tournament," he said.

"We just have to go out there and execute and play our game."

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