As we approach Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic, rosters for the participating countries are starting to trickle out. A lot of big name players have confirmed that they'll be playing in the Classic, and by the same token, there are several substantial players that won't be participating this year. With the provisional rosters to be announced on Thursday, we're slowly learning about who's in, and who's out.
Among the players not participating are Angels outfielders Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton. In our look at a dream Team USA, Trout was selected for the team, but Hamilton was not. However, a couple players we did project for the team will be playing: David Wright and Ryan Braun. Also confirmed thusfar for Team USA are Brandon Phillips, Joe Mauer, Adam Jones, and Giancarlo Stanton. A starting outfield of Braun, Jones, and Stanton is something that dreams are made out of. Team USA still needs to have their pitching staff put together, and still needs both a first baseman and a shortstop, but they're off to a great start so far.
Among the international teams, Albert Pujols plans on playing for the Dominican Republic as long as his surgically repaired knee responds well early in the spring. Already confirmed on the Dominican team are Robinson Cano and Jose Reyes up the middle, potentially giving the Dominican team a star-laden infield. We put all three on our dream Dominican Republic team last week. In addition to the Dominican players, Miguel Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval have confirmed that they'll play for team Venezuela, while Cardinals teammates Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran will play together for team Puerto Rico, and Adrian Gonzalez and Jaime Garcia (health willing) will be members of team Mexico.
But one provisional roster has actually already been released: team Canada. The Canadian team will feature former AL MVP Justin Morneau, along with Blue Jays star Brett Lawrie, Brewers closer John Axford, and Pirates catcher Russell Martin. Former NL MVP Joey Votto isn't on the provisional roster, but expects to play in the Classic if he passes a physical. Adding Votto to the team would be a huge boost for the Canadian team, which won one of the qualifying pools this fall and was inserted into Pool D along with Team USA, Team Italy, and Team Mexico.
Pool C will feature Team Venezuela, Team Puerto Rico, Team Dominican Republic, and Team Spain, while Pool B features the 2009 runners-up Team South Korea, Team Netherlands, Team Australia, and Team Chinese Taipei. Pool A features Team Japan, the winners of both previous Classics, Team Cuba, the 2006 runners-up, Team China, and Team Brazil.
Play kicks off on March 2nd in Pools A & B. with play in Pools C & D beginning on March 7th. Looking at some of the names that have been announced thusfar, and we could be in for the best World Baseball Classic yet.
UPDATE: A few more players for Team USA were confirmed by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports this evening, including first baseman Mark Teixeira, outfielder Shane Victorino, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The pitching staff is also taking form, with starters RA Dickey, Ryan Vogelsong, and Andy Pettitte announced, and relievers Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, Craig Kimbrel, Luke Gregerson, and Glen Perkins getting nods for the team.