Tribe may have 14 compete in Classic
Eight from big league roster could be showcased on world stage
CLEVELAND -- The Indians should be well represented during this spring's World Baseball Classic. Fourteen Tribe players, including eight from the big league roster, are listed on the 16-team event's provisional rosters, which were revealed Monday night.Center fielder Grady Sizemore and newly acquired third baseman Mark DeRosa are on the roster for Team USA, shortstop Jhonny Peralta, starter Fausto Carmona and reliever Rafael Perez are on the roster for the Dominican Republic, reliever Masa Kobayashi is on the roster for Japan, outfielder Shin Soo Choo is on the roster for Korea and reliever Rafael Betancourt -- contrary to a previous report -- is on the roster for Venezuela. From the Minors, outfielder Cirilo Cumberbatch, catcher Damaso Espino and right-hander Paolo Espino are listed on the roster for Panama, right-handers Chen-Chang Lee and Sung-Wei Tseng are on the roster for Chinese Taipei and outfielder Nick Weglarz is on the roster for Canada. Second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera (Venezuela) had been on an early roster, but didn't make it through in the latest stage of roster tweaks. The final rosters of 28 players -- including a mandatory 13 pitchers -- must be set by Feb. 24. Tickets can be purchased in strips, and fans can buy them online through mlb.com. MLB Network will televise 16 World Baseball Classic games, along with a nightly studio show dedicated to the tournament. ESPN will televise 23 games of the Classic in the U.S., including the semifinal and final games, across ESPN and ESPN2 and on its Spanish-language platform, ESPN Deportes. The first round opens March 5 in Tokyo, with defending 2006 champion Japan facing China. Mexico City, Toronto and San Juan, Puerto Rico, host the other three first-round brackets, with the whole round shaping up as follows: Tokyo (March 5-9): Japan, China, Chinese Taipei and Korea Toronto (March 7-11): USA, Canada, Venzuela and Italy San Juan, PR (March 7-11): Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Panama Mexico City (March 8-12): Mexico, Cuba, South Africa, Australia
The Classic is a double-elimination format this time throughout the first two rounds. The winners from Toronto will meet the winners from Puerto Rico in the second round at Miami's Dolphin Stadium, while the winners from Tokyo will meet with the winners from Mexico City in San Diego's PETCO Park. The semifinals and finals are slated for March 21 and 23 at Dodger Stadium. The Classic offers ballplayers a rare opportunity to represent their native lands -- an opportunity that previously only existed in the Olympic Games, which Major League players are forbidden from participating in. Of the 12 players on the latest provisional rosters, only Betancourt is a WBC veteran. He worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings for Venezuela during the tournament's inaugural run in 2006. When Betancourt struggled early in that '06 season, his participation in the Classic -- and its impact on his spring preparation -- was cited as a possible culprit. So his inclusion on the roster in '09 is something of a surprise, particularly after his rough '08 season. If Betancourt makes the final roster for Venezuela, he could potentially be presented with the opportunity to go head-to-head against teammates Sizemore and DeRosa in Pool C. Sizemore is the biggest name of the bunch, when it comes to players potentially leaving Spring Training camp to participate in the Classic. He's coming off a 2008 season in which he joined the 30-30 club and won his first AL Silver Slugger Award and his second Gold Glove Award. Peralta's potential absence would have been a bigger concern for the Tribe if he was making the permanent move to third base this spring, but DeRosa's arrival keeps Peralta at short, for now. Still, the Indians do plan to get a look at Peralta at the hot corner on occasion during the exhibition schedule. He also played there during winter ball. DeRosa's departure affects his spring prep time at third after his move from second base. But because DeRosa has played 206 games at third in his big league career, neither he nor the Indians have expressed concern over the potential time missed. Perez led all Indians relievers in appearances (73) and innings pitched (76 1/3) last season, so the Indians could be pardoned if they would prefer to have him in camp, where they can more closely monitor his workload. But players decide if they want to participate in the Classic, and the clubs have little choice but to grant them their wish, provided that player didn't spend 45 or more days on the disabled list the previous season. General manager Mark Shapiro recently addressed the topic of players leaving camp to participate in the WBC. "As a general manager, you cringe, because you don't like seeing your players play for anybody else," Shapiro said. "But as somebody who works in the game and understands the importance of building a fan base and international support, I'm certainly supportive of it. I'd be more supportive if it was everybody else's players and not ours, but that's not the reality."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.