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United States opens with Mexico in WBC

Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is going to play for Venezuela in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

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Cabrera was among the first 32 players - 12 major leaguers - to commit to playing in the tournament that begins March 2 with games hosted by two-time defending champion Japan and Taiwan.

The Mets' David Wright and Minnesota's Joe Mauer will play for the United States. The team managed by Joe Torre has been placed in Pool D for the first round with Italy, Mexico (The Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez), and Canada (Toronto's Brett Lawrie and Minnesota's Justin Morneau). The U.S. plays its first game March 8 against Mexico at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Torre is ready for some tough competition in the opening round of the tournament.

``It's just sort of like managing the Yankees for me because everybody for the USA always want to put on their Sunday best to make sure that they see a team that they're going to be proud of,'' Torre said Monday at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. ``So that's one thing I guess I'm sort of used to, is that when they see that USA across our chest, they're going to - it's going to get them to another level, and we have to be ready for that.''

The schedule was announced Monday by World Baseball Classic Inc. The top two teams in each of the four pools advance to the second round.

Pool A, being played in Fukouka, Japan, has newcomer Brazil (Cleveland's Yan Gomes), Cuba and China as well as Japan.

Pool B in Taichung, Taiwan, also has Australia (Oakland's Travis Blackley), Korea, Netherlands (free agent Andruw Jones, Washington's Roger Bernadina). Free agent Chien-Ming Wang will pitch for Taiwan.

Puerto Rico (St. Louis' Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina) hosts Pool C in San Juan. The Dominican Republic (The Yankees' Robinson Cano and Toronto's Jose Reyes), Venezuela (Cabrera and San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval) and Spain are also in Pool C.

Round two, a modified double-elimination format, will be held in Tokyo and Miami and the semifinals and finals are in San Francisco from March 17-19.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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