For those attending Spring Training in Florida this coming March, be aware that tickets for the World Baseball Classic are now on sale. Six second-round games will be played in Miami from March 14 through 18. (Full WBC schedules and tickets available here.)
In addition, as I noted in this earlier article outlining the details of the Cardinals spring training schedule, St. Louis is playing one exhibition against a WBC team in Jupiter on Thursday, March 5. Their opponent will not have to travel far, as they will also be training right in Jupiter.
Though the title of this entry gives already gives away the answer, I will disclose the answer is Felipe Alou’s Dominican Republic squad.
(Details on all Cardinals spring tickets are available though the spring ticket office at Roger Dean Stadium. Individual game tickets go on sale January 10, but package deals can be purchased now.)
Alou’s club is just one of 11 WBC entries running their camps in Florida this March. The others, the four Asian teams and Cuba are training at home. The Asian Round One pool is made up of defending champion Japan, Korea, China and Taipei.
Among the players who have reportedly expressed interest in competing for Jose Oquendo’s Puerto Rican team include Cardinals Yadier Molina and Joel Pineiro. For those who are game for a side trip over to the Commonwealth (passports not required), first round games for the pool including both Puerto Rico and the Dominican are being held in San Juan from March 7 through 11.
No offense intended to Jose and his club, but if you want to catch Team Puerto Rico, you had better either swing by their training camp in Fort Myers or travel to see their Round One games. I don’t think they are going to get past the Dominicans.
The 2009 Dominican Republic squad should be absolutely loaded. Infielders committed to play include Albert Pujols and Carlos Lee at first, Robinson Cano and former Cardinal Placido Polanco at second with Alex Rodriguez and Aramis Ramirez at third. For his shortstop, Alou is going to have to choose among Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Miguel Tejada. Big Papi is penciled in as the designated hitter, according to USAToday.
For those who would rather catch Derek Jeter and Team USA, training over on the west coast at Clearwater, they will play exhibitions against the Phillies in Clearwater on March 3 and 5, and the Blue Jays in Dunedin March 4. The USA begins its formal Round One play on March 7 in Toronto against a pool which also includes Canada, Venezuela and Italy.