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USA begins play in World Baseball Classic on March 8

The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The United States will open pool play in the World Baseball Classic on March 8 when it faces Mexico at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Team USA and Mexico will be part of Pool D, along with Canada and Italy, in games to be played in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., from March 7-10.

The schedule was announced Monday during the Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort.

Brazil, China, Cuba and Japan will play in Pool A from March 2-6 at Fukuoka, Japan. Pool B will consist of Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korea and the Netherlands and will be played from March 2-5 at Taichung, Taiwan. San Juan, Puerto Rico will be the site of Pool C play from March 7-10, with the host nation being joined by the Dominican Republic, Spain and Venezuela.

The top two teams in each pool will advance to second round, with those from Pools A and B playing March 8-12 at Tokyo and those from Pools C and D playing March 12-16 at Marlins Park in Miami.

The top two finishers from each second-round pool advance to the championship round to be played March 17-19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The United States will be looking to win the WBC for the first time. Japan won the first two events in 2006 and 2009.

"A large part of the World Baseball Classic is to grow the game internationally, but when you put on that uniform and are representing your country, you certainly want to win, and that's the conversation I'm going to have with every player on our team," United States manager Joe Torre said. "It's more than just an All-Star Game. We want to put our best foot forward."

The 28-man roster for each nation will be announced on Jan. 16, and Torre is looking forward to managing again, if only for a brief period. He has been working as Major League Baseball's vice president of baseball operations since retiring as the Los Angeles Dodgers' manager following the 2010 season.

"This is going to be fun," Torre said. "Managing this team will be like having the grandkids visit. You'll have them around, you'll love to death, then you'll turn them back over to their parents in three weeks."
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