Four national baseball squads will converge in Arizona next Tuesday to begin play of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. The top two teams in Pool B will advance to the second round, which will be held March 12-16 in Anaheim.
In many ways, the World Baseball Classic could not come at a better time for Mexico. The game is still very popular in the Northern states and it's hoped that a strong showing in the Classic could spark renewed interest nationally in the sport.
If form is followed, Pool B of the World Baseball Classic will be about which team advances with the U.S. to the second round -- Canada or Mexico.
One of the more intriguing story lines at the upcoming WBC should be the chance for unsung players to step up and share the spotlight with the household names of many of the Major League stars who will participate.
As baseball continues to grow globally, the World Baseball Classic could be the ideal stage for a young player from Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Canada, Mexico or South Africa to draw interest from scouts working for Major League teams.
Nomar Garciaparra, adjusting to a new position on a new team after two injury-plagued seasons, withdrew on Friday from the World Baseball Classic, where he was slated to play for Mexico.
International baseball hasn't yet burned indelible images into many minds. Not on a par with more established global competitions. Give it time. The memories are coming. Perhaps as soon as next month, with the inaugural World Baseball Classic.
Carrying Mexico's banner in the inaugural World Baseball Classic will be two of the game's premier performers over the past decade -- Vinny Castilla and Nomar Garciaparra -- along with rising star Jorge Cantu and a deep collection of lively arms.
Dodgers first baseman Nomar Garciaparra will play for Mexico at the World Baseball Classic in March. The native of Whittier, Calif., qualifies because of his Mexican parents, Mexican baseball league president Alejandro Hute said in a newspaper interview published Saturday.
Jake Peavy and Vinny Castilla are among a host of players who've agreed to participate in the World Baseball Classic next March, with Peavy slated to suit up for Team USA and Castilla, if selected for the final roster, possibly competing for Mexico.