WBC Schedule Will Begin On March 2

After an unprecedented fall of qualifying tournaments from Taiwan to North America to Germany, the third edition of the World Baseball Classic has set its 16-team field.

The first-round pools will be round-robin play, with the two top records moving on to a modified double-elimination second round that will be played in Japan and Miami. Two teams from each second-round pool will move to the final four in San Francisco, where the semifinals and finals will be played March 17-19 in San Francisco.

Baseball’s biggest international tournament also announced 32 core players who have committed to appear in the WBC, including 21 current and former major leaguers. That group includes Team USA’s Joe Mauer and David Wright; Venezuela’s Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, and World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval; Puerto Rico’s Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina; Team Canada’s Brett Lawrie and Justin Morneau; Netherlands outfielders Roger Bernadina and Andruw Jones; Mexico’s first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and lefthander Jaime Garcia; Italian-American righthander Jason Grilli and Italy’s first homegrown big leaguer, Alex Liddi; and Dominican Republic middle infielders Robinson Cano and Jose Reyes.

The selection of rosters going forward involves nations working with major league clubs, players and agents to find players willing to play games that matter in March. MLB does work with national governing bodies to help them secure players, but it’s up to individual players to decide which country to play for if they have more than one option, such as Gonzalez (who will play for Mexico again) or Giancarlo Stanton, who was born in the U.S. but could play for Puerto Rico. Also, no major league organization can have more than 15 players involved in the Classic.

Among the minor leaguers committed to play include Rangers farmhand Engel Beltre, who helped Spain win its September qualifier in Jupiter, Fla.; third baseman Ray Chang, who will play for China and who played at Triple-A Rochester in the Twins system in 2012; and Brazilian righthander Andre Rienzo, who along with catcher/first baseman Yan Gomes helped their country win a November qualifier in Panama.

Brazil—which had a sizable contingent of players of Japanese descent on its qualifier roster—will play in Pool A, which opens play March 2 in Fukuoka, Japan. Two-time WBC champion Japan, China and Cuba also will play in Pool A.

Pool B also starts March 2 with the WBC’s first game between host Taiwan and Australia. The 2009 WBC runner-up, Korea, and 2011 World Cup champion Netherlands also will play in Pool B. The top two in Pool A and the top two in Pool B will meet in the second round in Pool 1 in the Tokyo Dome from March 8-12.

Pool C at Puerto Rico’s venerable Hiram Bithron Stadium in San Juan will include the Dominican Republic, host Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela. The United States heads Pool D, which also will include Canada, Italy and Mexico. The top two teams in Pools C and D meet in the second-round Pool 2 at Marlins Park in Miami from March 12-16. The two qualifiers from this pool will have to fly cross-country from Miami to San Francisco to play a March 18 semifinal game, then turn around the next day for the March 19 championship game.

Australia: Luke Hughes, 3b, free agent; Ryan Rowland-Smith, lhp, fre agent
Braziil: Yan Gomes, c/1b, Indians; Andre Rienzo, rhp, White Sox
Canada: Brett Lawrie, 3b, Blue Jays; Justin Morneau, 1b, Twins
China: Ray Chang, 3b, free agent; Wei Wang, c, Mariners (restricted list)
Cuba: Yuliesky Gourriel, 3b; Freddy Asiel Alvarez, rhp
Dominican Republic: Robinson Cano, 2b, Yankees; Jose Reyes, ss, Blue Jays
Italy: Jason Grilli, rhp, free agent; Alex Liddi, 3b/1b, Mariners
Japan: Shinnosuke Abe, c/1b, Yomiuri Giants (NPB); Masahiro Tanaka, rhp, Rakuten Golden Eagles (NPB)
Korea: Lee Dae-ho, 3b, Orix Blue Wave (NPB); Lee Seung-yuop, 1b, Samsung Lions (KBO);
Mexico: Jaime Garcia, lhp, Cardinals; Adian Gonzalez, 1b, Dodgers
Netherlands: Roger Bernadina, of, Nationals; Andruw Jones, of, free agent
Puerto Rico: Carlos Beltran, of, Cardinals; Yadier Molina, c, Cardinals
Spain: Engel Beltre, of, Rangers; Paco Figueroa, 2b, free agent
Taiwan: Chien Ming-Wang, rhp, free agent; Hong-Chih Kuo, lhp, free agent
United States: Joe Mauer, c, Twins; David Wright, 3b, Mets
Venezuela: Miguel Cabrera, 3b/1b, Tigers; Pablo Sandoval, 3b, Giants

POOL A–Fukuoka, Japan
Yahoo! Japan Dome
TEAMS: Brazil, China, Cuba, Japan
Game Date Local Time ET Time Match-Up (Home Team in CAPS)
Saturday, March 2 7:00 p.m. 5:00 a.m. Japan vs. BRAZIL
Sunday, March 3 12:00 p.m. 10:00 p.m. (Sat) Cuba vs. BRAZIL
  7:00 p.m. 5:00 a.m. China vs. JAPAN
Monday, March 4 5:30 p.m. 3:30 a.m. China vs. CUBA
Tuesday, March 5 5:30 p.m. 3:30 a.m. Brazil vs. CHINA
Wednesday, March 6 7:00 p.m. 5:00 a.m. Japan vs. CUBA
POOL B — Taichun, Taiwan
Intercontinental Baseball Stadium
TEAMS: Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Netherlands
Game Date Local Time ET Time Match-Up (Home Team in CAPS)
Saturday, March 2 12:30 p.m. 11:30 p.m. (Fri) Australia vs. CHINESE TAIPEI
  7:30 p.m. 6:30 a.m. Korea vs. NETHERLANDS
Sunday, March 3 2:30 p.m. 1:30 a.m. Netherlands vs. CHINESE TAIPEI
Monday, March 4 6:30 p.m. 5:30 a.m. Korea vs. AUSTRALIA
Tuesday, March 5 12:30 p.m. 11:30 p.m. (Mon) Australia vs. NETHERLANDS
  7:30 p.m. 6:30 a.m. Chinese Taipei vs. KOREA
POOL C –San Juan, P.R.
Hiram Bithorn Stadium
TEAMS: Dominican, Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain, Venezuela
Game Date Local Time ET Time Match-Up (Home Team in CAPS)
Thursday, March 7 7:30 p.m. 6:30 p.m. Venezuela vs. DOMINICAN
Friday, March 8 6:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. Spain vs. PUERTO RICO
Saturday, March 9 12:00 p.m. 11:00 a.m. Dominican Republic vs. SPAIN
  6:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. VENEZUELA
Sunday, March 10 12:30 p.m. 12:30 p.m. Spain vs. VENEZUELA
  7:30 p.m. 7:30 p.m. Dominican Republic vs. PUERTO RICO
POOL D — Phoenix, Ariz.
Chase Field/Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
TEAMS: Canada, Italy, Mexico, United States
Game Date Local Time ET Time Match-Up (Home Team in CAPS)
Thursday, March 7 1:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. Italy vs. MEXICO (SRF)
Friday, March 8 12:30 p.m. 2:30 p.m. Canada vs. ITALY (SRF)
  7:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m. Mexico vs. UNITED STATES (CF)
Saturday, March 9 12:30 p.m. 2:30 p.m. Canada vs. MEXICO (CF)
  7:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m. United States vs. ITALY (CF)
Sunday, March 10 1:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. United States vs. CANADA (CF)
POOL 1 –Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo Dome
TEAMS: Pool A Winner, Pool A Runner-Up, Pool B Winner, Pool B Runner Up
Game Date Local Time ET Time Match-Up (Home Team in CAPS)
Friday, March 8 12:00 p.m. 10:00 p.m. (Thu) Pool A Runner-up vs. POOL B WINNER*
  7:00 p.m. 5:00 a.m. Pool B Runner-up vs. POOL A WINNER*
Saturday, March 9 7:00 p.m. 5:00 a.m. Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser
Sunday, March 10 7:00 p.m. 6:00 a.m. Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
Monday, March 11 7:00 p.m. 6:00 a.m. Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser
Tuesday, March 12 7:00 p.m. 6:00 a.m. Game 5 Winner vs. GAME 4 WINNER
POOL 2 — Miami, Fla.
Marlins Park
TEAMS: Pool C Winner, Pool C Runner-Up, Pool D Winner, Pool D Runner Up
Game Date Local Time ET Time Match-Up (Home Team in CAPS)
Tuesday, March 12 1:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. Pool D Runner-up vs. POOL C WINNER*
  8:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m. Pool C Runner-up vs. POOL D WINNER*
Wednesday, March 13 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser
Thursday, March 14 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
Friday, March 15 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser
Saturday, March 16 1:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. Game 5 Winner vs. GAME 4 WINNER
San Francisco, Calif.
AT&T Park
TEAMS: Pool 1 Winner, Pool 1 Runner-Up, Pool 2 Winner, Pool 2 Runner Up