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World Baseball Classic is drawing player interest
The talent pool is expected to swell as the tournament nears, MLB Players Assn. Executive Director Donald Fehr said today. Provisional rosters for the 16-team event will be selected by national baseball federations in participating nations, but won't be announced until mid-January.

The final rosters will be set in late February.

The Angels' Vladimir Guerrero and Scot Shields are among the players who have expressed interest in playing. However Guerrero, who would play alongside Alex Rodriguez for the Dominican Republic, is coming off knee surgery. Shields pitched for the U.S. team in the first WBC.

The Dodgers' Russell Martin (Canada) and Hiroki Kuroda (Japan) are also expected to participate.

Nearly 500 players -- including 235 under contract to major league organizations -- took part in the inaugural WBC in 2006.

The first WBC ended with Japan beating Cuba in San Diego and drew more than 740,000 fans from 15 countries. Sixteen of the 39 games were sellouts.

The 2009 tournament's first-round games will be begin March 5, in Tokyo (featuring China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea), Mexico City (South Africa, Cuba, Australia, Mexico), Toronto (U.S., Canada, Italy, Venezuela) and Puerto Rico (the Netherlands, Dominican Republic, Panama, Puerto Rico).

The second round will be held in Miami and San Diego, with the top two teams from each site moving on to the Final Four at Dodger Stadium.

Former Dodger Manager and current club executive Tommy Lasorda will serve as the tournament's global ambassador.

Cuba's inclusion is pending the approval of the U.S. government, which tournament officials expect to receive shortly. Three years ago Cuba's participation was held up by the U.S. Treasury Department, which originally denied the WBC the license it needed to do business with the Cuban government. But the government later reversed that decision.

The 16 countries participating are the same that played in 2006, but there are plans to expand the field for the third WBC in 2013.

Ticket strips for Round 2 (March 15-19) at Petco Park in San Diego and for the semifinals and final (March 21-23) at Dodger Stadium are available online at and on the Dodgers website. Single-game tickets will go on sale in mid-January.


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