LOS ANGELES – World Baseball Classic, Inc. today announced the final pool compositions and the full tournament schedule for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The Dodgers announced today that Fernando Valenzuela, Adrian Gonzalez and Luis Cruz will represent Mexico in the 2013 WBC. The WBC will begin on Saturday, March 2 and the Dodgers will play host to Mexico’s World Baseball squad on March 6 at Camelback Ranch.
Four-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner and Dodger first baseman Adrian Gonzalez will be making his third appearance for Team Mexico (2006, 2009).
“I am very excited and happy to participate in the 2013 World Baseball Classic,” said Gonzalez. “We are all preparing to represent Mexico as best we can. We’re going all in and with everything we’ve got so our country can be proud of the talent that’s in Mexican baseball. ‘¡Si se puede!’”
Gonzalez was acquired in a nine-player trade with Boston on Aug. 25 and hit .297 (43-for-145) in 36 games for Los Angeles and .299 with a career-high 47 doubles, a triple, 18 home runs and 108 RBI in 159 combined games with the Dodgers and Red Sox. He finished the 2012 campaign on a team-high 15-game hitting streak while securing his third consecutive season with 100 or more RBI.
Valenzuela returns to the 2013 WBC as a coach for Team Mexico (2006, 2009). Valenzuela helped lead Mexico to the second round of the tournament in San Diego in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
“It makes me very proud that the Dodgers will represent Mexico,” said Valenzuela. “I think it’s special for our fans because many are from Mexico, have family there or are of Mexican descent. It’s important for me to be a part of this and I’m excited to coach and to support our guys who will be playing on the team.”
Valenzuela made his Major League debut at age 19 on the eve of Mexican Independence Day, September 15, 1980. Valenzuela was the emergency starter on Opening Day 1981 when he hurled a 2-0 shutout over Houston, one of five in his first eight starts that season. The phenomenon of “Fernandomania” ensued and Valenzuela remains one of the most significant athletes to ever come out of Mexico. Valenzuela was an integral part of the 1981 World Series Champion Dodgers. He was the first ever Mexican-born pitcher to start a World Series game. He was also named Rookie of the Year and won the Cy Young Award in 1981 and remains the only player to win both in the same year.
Dodger infielder Luis Cruz will be making his second appearance for Team Mexico (2006).
“It means a lot to me to play for Mexico in the WBC,” Cruz said. “I’m in Culiacan, Sinaloa now playing for the Tomateros and the fans here in Mexico are always excited about the Dodgers. There is a lot of support all over Mexico for the club. For me, it’s a big honor to be a Dodger and now to be able play for my country as a Dodger is just a dream. I’m just very happy and thankful.”
Cruz, who had his best Major League season in 2012, hit .297 (84-for-283) with 20 doubles, six home runs and 40 RBI in 78 games in his first year with the Dodgers. He led the club in batting average (.297), hits (84), doubles (20) and games (78) from the time of his call-up (July 2) through the end of the season. Cruz is currently hitting .364 (4-for-11) in three games for the Tomateros de Culiacan of the Mexican Winter League, where he was named the MVP of the league in 2011, batting .340 with 17 homers and 47 RBI in 62 games.
The WBC begins on Saturday, March 2nd in Fukuoka, Japan and Taichung, Taiwan. Today each of the 16 competing countries and territories announced two players who have committed early to compete in the Classic. Jaime Garcia, a member of 2011 World Champion Cardinals and second Mexican-born pitcher after Valenzuela to ever start a World Series game, also will represent Mexico.
Pool A, which will be played at the Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome from Saturday, March 2nd–Wednesday, March 6th, will include the countries of Brazil, China, Cuba and Japan. The opening game at the venue on March 2nd will feature two-time defending champion Japan vs. newcomer and Qualifier Round victor Brazil at 7:00 p.m. (all times local).
Pool B will feature the countries of Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korea and the Netherlands at Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan from Saturday, March 2nd–Tuesday, March 5th. The opening game on March 2nd will be played at 12:30 p.m. between 2009 finalist Korea and the Netherlands.
Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico will host the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela for Pool C contests from Thursday, March 7th–Sunday, March 10th. Venezuela and the Dominican Republic will square off in the first game in San Juan on March 7th at 7:30 p.m.
Chase Field and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick will host games in Pool D, featuring Canada, Italy, Mexico and the United States from Thursday, March 7th–Sunday, March 10th. Salt River Fields will host the opening game on March 7th at 1:00 p.m. between Mexico and Italy.
The First Round will return to a round-robin format with the top two teams at each venue advancing to one of two Second Round pools. The Second Round, which will be a modified double-elimination format, will be played at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan and Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. Pool 1 at the Tokyo Dome, from Friday, March 8th–Tuesday, March 12th, will feature the winners and runners-up from Pools A and B, while Pool 2 at Marlins Park, from Tuesday, March 12th–Saturday, March 16th, will host the winners and runners-up from Pools C and D. The winners and runners-up from each of the Second Round pools will advance to the Championship Round at AT&T Park in San Francisco from Sunday, March 17th – Tuesday, March 19th.
Twelve Major League All-Stars are among the initial 32 players confirming early to represent their country in March. The players include 2012 American League MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers and 2012 World Series MVP presented by Chevrolet Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants (Venezuela); second baseman Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees and 2011 N.L. Batting Champion Jose Reyes of the Toronto Blue Jays (Dominican Republic); third baseman David Wright of the New York Mets and 2009 A.L. MVP Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins (United States); St. Louis Cardinals teammates Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico); first baseman Adrian Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Mexico); 2006 A.L. MVP Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins (Canada); free agent outfielder Andruw Jones (Netherlands); and free agent left-handed pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo (Chinese Taipei).
Each federation’s provisional 28-Man roster will be announced in mid-January. The entire list of 32 players confirming early to play in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, as well as the full tournament schedule can be found by visiting www.worldbaseballclassic.com. Additionally, ticket strips, which include tickets for all games at a particular venue, are also available for all tournament venues. MLB Network will exclusively air all 39 games of the 2013 World Baseball Classic in the United States.