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Big League Stew

Getting to know your World Baseball Classic squads: Canada

Big League Stew

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The World Baseball Classic is almost here. The tournament starts March 2 and runs through March 19 with 16 teams hoping to rule the baseball world. Since international baseball brings new players and storylines, Big League Stew is helping you get ready this worldly clash with previews of each team.

CANADA

Pool: Pool D, Phoenix

'09 finish: 13th, 0-2. Didn't advance out of pool play.

First game: March 7 vs. Italy

Biggest star(s): Joey Votto. The freshly-crowned Face of the MLB is also the face of Team Canada. He's the team's leader, but there have been questions all week about whether he'll actually play. At this point: He's still unsure. Canada better be crossing its toes. Other stars on the roster include Justin Morneau and Brett Lawrie. Entire roster here.

Notable absences: Russell Martin, who said he was going to play shortstop, and then left the team when he wasn't allowed to. Ryan Dempster is another Canadian star not suiting up.

Name you may not know, but should: Jameson Taillon, a 6-foot-6 starting pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and Baseball America's 23rd best prospect in 2013. On a team that's weak with starting pitching, he could make an impact if given the opportunity.

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Is Joey Votta going to play? (AP)


Important questions to ask about Canada:

Can that starting pitching hold up? Canada manager Ernie Whitt is said to be starting Shawn Hill in the first game, followed by Chris Leroux in the second. If you're saying "who?" you're not alone. Canada's pitching strength lies in its bullpen ... if it can get there with a lead.

How hot are Canada's corners? Its three best players play first and third base: Votto, Morneau and Lawrie. Too bad either Votto or Morneau couldn't play shortstop. Eh, Russell Martin?

Does movie knowledge count for anything? Canada has John Axford, noted Oscar prognosticator, in the bullpen. Canada would probably take any extra credit it can get to advance out of pool play.

PREVIOUS WBC TEAM PREVIEWS: Brazil | Cuba | China | Japan | Netherlands | Chinese Taipei| Korea |Australia | Spain | Dominican Republic | Venezuela | United States | Mexico | Puerto Rico

BONUS: Here's a cool infographic breaking down the WBC.

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