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Rosters set for World Baseball Classic

U.S. and Dominican Republic have rosters with only major leaguers.

February 25, 2009|Kevin Baxter

The final rosters for next month's World Baseball Classic were released Tuesday with both the U.S. and the Dominican Republic, the pre-tournament favorite, selecting teams composed entirely of major leaguers. Times staff writer Kevin Baxter offers a first look at the tournament, which begins next week and has second-round play at San Diego's Petco Park and the semifinals and finals at Dodger Stadium:

Pool A, at Tokyo

Teams: China, Japan, Chinese Taipei, South Korea.

Signed up: Japan -- Daisuke Matsuzaka (Red Sox), Akinori Iwamura (Rays), Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners). South Korea -- Shin Soo Choo (Indians). China and Taiwan have no major leaguers.

Missing: Japan -- Hideki Matsui (Yankees), Hiroki Kuroda (Dodgers). South Korea -- Chan Ho Park (Phillies). Chinese Taipei -- Hong-Chih Kuo (Dodgers), Chien-Ming Wang (Yankees).

Of interest: Japan won the inaugural WBC with tournament MVP Matsuzaka getting the victory over Cuba in the final. But South Korea, which has only one major leaguer on its roster, is the defending Olympic champion and the International Baseball Federation ranks its program as No. 2 in the world, behind Cuba.

Opening round: March 5 -- China vs. Japan; March 6 -- Chinese Taipei vs. South Korea.

Pool B, at Mexico City

Teams: Mexico, South Africa, Cuba, Australia.

Signed up: Mexico -- Jorge Cantu (Marlins), Adrian Gonzalez (Padres), Oliver Perez (Mets). Cuba -- no major leaguers. South Africa and Australia -- no players of note.

Missing: Mexico -- Eddie Guardado (Rangers), Yovani Gallardo (Brewers).

Of interest: Cuba is in a bit of a slump, having finished second in the first WBC as well as the last World Cup and Olympic Games. They'll also be without Alexei Ramirez and Yadel Marti, stars from the 2006 WBC who have defected.

Opening round: March 8 -- South Africa vs. Cuba, Australia vs. Mexico.

Pool C, at Toronto

Teams: United States, Canada, Italy, Venezuela.

Signed up: U.S. -- Derek Jeter (Yankees), Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox), Chipper Jones (Braves). Canada -- Russell Martin (Dodgers), Jason Bay (Red Sox), Justin Morneau (Twins). Italy -- Frank Catalanotto (Rangers), Nick Punto (Twins). Venezuela -- Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), Francisco Rodriguez (Mets), Carlos Zambrano (Cubs).

Missing: U.S. -- John Lackey (Angels), Ryan Howard (Phillies), CC Sabathia (Yankees). Canada -- Eric Gagne (free agent), Jeff Francis (Rockies), Ryan Dempster (Cubs). Italy -- Mike Napoli (Angels). Venezuela -- Johan Santana (Mets), Maicer Izturis (Angels).

Of interest: The U.S. has a deep bullpen, with no fewer than five closers. But Venezuela is loaded too, with Francisco Rodriguez to close.

Opening round: March 7 -- U.S. vs. Canada, Italy vs. Venezuela.

Pool D, at San Juan, P.R.

Teams: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panama, Netherlands.

Signed up: Puerto Rico -- Carlos Delgado (Mets), Carlos Beltran (Mets). Dominican Republic -- Alex Rodriguez (Yankees), Hanley Ramirez (Marlins), David Ortiz (Red Sox). Panama -- Carlos Lee (Astros), Carlos Ruiz (Phillies). Netherlands -- Rick VandenHurk (Marlins), Sidney Ponson (free agent).

Missing: Puerto Rico -- Joel Pineiro (Cardinals), Mike Lowell (Red Sox). Dominican Republic -- Vladimir Guerrero (Angels), Manny Ramirez (free agent), Albert Pujols (Cardinals). Panama -- Mariano Rivera (Yankees). Netherlands -- Andruw Jones (Rangers).

Of interest: Even without Guerrero, Pujols and Ramirez, the Dominican Republic should have a potent offense. Manager Felipe Alou has Jose Reyes and Miguel Tejada, All-Stars who won't even be starters.

Opening round: March 7 -- Netherlands vs. Dominican Republic, Panama vs. Puerto Rico.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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