Many All-Star Latino ball players will be playing for their native lands in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, along with World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, will be playing for Venezuela.
Cabrera and Sandoval were 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.
"Baseball is a passion in Venezuela," Cabrera told MLB.com, "and I look forward to playing for my country against the rest of the world."
Sandoval too, could not be happier to be representing his country, "I'd love to win another championship, only this time with my fellow countrymen in the World Baseball Classic."
Both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico will also feature a double-play duo of MLB players. While second baseman Robinson Cano of the Yankees and shortstop Jose Reyes of the Blue Jays will represent their Dominican roots, Cardinals teammates Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina will don Puerto Rican uniforms.
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 hosts Pool C in San Juan. The Dominican Republic, Venezuela 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.
With reporting by the Associated Press.