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02/21/09 6:37 PM EST

Cueto to play in World Baseball Classic

Reds pitcher joining teammate Volquez on Dominican squad

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Reds will definitely have two-fifths of their rotation away for a large block of Spring Training.

Starter Johnny Cueto has decided to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Cueto will join rotation-mate and countryman Edinson Volquez, who had made the decision to represent his country a while ago.

"They could be gone a week, or three weeks," Reds pitching coach Dick Pole said.

Rosters for the World Baseball Classic will be formally announced on Tuesday. The tournament is scheduled to run from March 5-23. Cueto and Volquez will leave camp on March 1 to work out with the Dominican squad, which has Reds instructor Mario Soto as its pitching coach.

Before leaving, Volquez will start for the Reds on Wednesday against the Rays in Cincinnati's first Grapefruit League game. Cueto and Homer Bailey will be among the pitchers that follow in that game.

In his 2008 rookie season, the 23-year-old Cueto was 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA. He is considered one of the game's promising young right-handed pitchers.

Other Reds also planning on playing in the Classic are first baseman Joey Votto (Canada), catcher Ramon Hernandez (Venezuela) and utility player Jerry Hairston Jr. (Mexico).

"It's always somewhat disruptive to your camp but a lot of good comes out of it too," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "It's one of those things that you have to plan around. I think it's not ideal, but every club has the similar problem."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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