The provisional rosters for all 16 countries participating in the World Baseball Classic were officially announced Thursday, and the Milwaukee Brewers have the maximum allowed amount of players participating.
Fourteen members of the Brewers organization will represent eight different nations in the tournament that begins March 2.
Left fielder Ryan Braun and catcher Jonathan Lucroy will play for the United States, and starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada will pitch for Mexico.
Team Canada features four members of the Brewers, as closer John Axford, reliever Jim Henderson, infielder Taylor Green and recent minor league signee Rene Tosoni made the roster. Center fielder Carlos Gomez will play for the Dominican Republic, while catcher Martin Maldonado will play for Puerto Rico and shortstop Jeff Bianchi is on Italy’s roster.
Pitching prospect Hiram Burgos joins Maldonado for Puerto Rico, while minor league infielders Hainley Statia and Mike Walker will play for the Netherlands and Australia, respectively. Brewers right fielder Norichika Aoki likely would have been on Japan’s roster, but Aoki passed to focus on preparing for his second season in the big leagues.
Spring training will be a bit different for manager Ron Roenicke, as many key players will miss a good chunk of time. WBC pool play starts March 2, and the championship round doesn’t end until March 19.
Pool D – which includes Team USA, Mexico, Canada and Italy – will be played at Chase Field in Phoenix. That means Braun, Lucroy, Gallardo, Estrada and the four members of Team Canada won’t have to travel far from the Brewers’ spring training facility.
Though it is concerning that both of the big-league catchers and two starting pitchers are participating, the WBC has instituted rules to prevent pitchers from being used too heavily, too early.
Pitch count limits have been lowered since the 2009 tournament and now are 65 pitches in the first round, 80 in the second round and 95 in the semifinals and finals. Pitchers now can’t appear in more than one game on a given day, as well. Still, star American pitchers such as Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Cain, David Price, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Jered Weaver and many more chose not to participate.
Even position players such as Andrew McCutchen, Prince Fielder, Buster Posey, Bryce Harper and Josh Hamilton passed on playing for Team USA.
Despite Braun being one of the rare stars who will suit up for the Americans, manager Joe Torre’s team still should compete for the crown. Japan has won both of the previous World Baseball Classics, with Team USA finishing only as high as fourth.