Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY Sports.
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The second World Baseball Classic, in 2009, featured 52 players who had made at least one All-Star team, as well as 10 MVPs and four Cy Young Award winners.
Major League Baseball expects at least that caliber of representation in this year’s event, March 2-19.
Rosters won’t be announced until Thursday, but the names trickling out include a large number of well-known figures, including reigning American League MVP Miguel Cabrera and National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey.
“We’re very happy with the amount of star power that’s going to be playing in the tournament,” said Paul Archey, MLB’s senior vice president of international business operations, adding that preliminary rosters had not been finalized.
“You’re never going to get 100% of the guys you want due to injuries or other circumstances, but more than half the players in this tournament (in 2009) came from major league organizations, and more than 30% from 25-man rosters. We expect the same this year.”.
Dickey headlines a Team USA staff that will include fellow starters Andy Pettitte and Ryan Vogelsong, with Craig Kimbrel as the closer.
The everyday lineup might have an All-Star at every position, among them catcher Joe Mauer, second baseman Brandon Phillips, third baseman David Wright and outfielders Ryan Braun, Adam Jones and Giancarlo Stanton.
“I’m real excited. We haven’t won it yet, so that would be great to be part of,” Stanton said. “I know I haven’t played with USA on the chest, besides the (All-Star) futures game, but that wasn’t playing for the importance of this. So it will be good to contribute.”.
The U.S. Squad, which has yet to make the finals of an event that has been won by Japan both times, again figures to get stiff competition, judging by the commitments made by players from other countries.
Cabrera, the majors’ first Triple Crown winner since 1967, will be the centerpiece of a powerful Venezuelan lineup that will include World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, 2010 NL batting champ Carlos Gonzalez and All-Star shortstops Elvis Andrus and Asdrubal Cabrera.
Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, the 2010 AL Cy Young winner, has claimed the No. 1 spot in the rotation and is in line to start the Pool C opener against none other than the Dominican Republic.
That team might field a lineup with such accomplished hitters as Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, Adrian Beltre, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion.
Closer Fernando Rodney is so determined to play, he told the Dominican newspaper El Caribe he didn’t bother asking the Tampa Bay Rays for permission.
“You don’t have to ask permission to represent your country,” Rodney said.
Not everybody is as gung-ho. Dominican icon David Ortiz indicated he won’t play, and on the American side, players of the magnitude of Buster Posey, Matt Kemp, Mike Trout, Troy Tulowitzki, Dustin Pedroia, Andrew McCutchen, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander are not expected to play, although Verlander has left room to change his mind.
Still, manager Joe Torre will have plenty of talent at his disposal.
“One of the things Joe has been focused on is putting together a team of component parts, not just casting a net to pull in big names,” Team USA general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. Said. “He wants players that will complement each other and give him the best chance of winning.”.
Contributing: Bob Nightengale in Los Angeles.