Manager Ernie Whitt has named two pitchers for each game. Shawn Hill (Tigers) will start against Italy, with Scott Mathieson (Yomiuri Giants in 2012) following him out of the bullpen. Chris Leroux (Pirates) will begin the game against Mexico, with Andrew Albers (Twins) first out of the pen. Jameson Taillon (Pirates), drafted No. 2 in 2010 and ranked as the 23rd best prospect in the majors by Baseball America, will start on Sunday against the US. He'll be followed by Mark Hardy (Padres).
There is a pitch count limit of 65 in the opening round, and any pitcher who throws more than 50 must have four days rest before he works again. Whitt plans on capping his main hurlers at around 45 pitches.
Canada beat the Brewers 7-4 on Tuesday afternoon, and will play the Reds today.
The team's lineup is partially set. CF Tyson Gillies (Phillies) will lead off, with DH Joey Votto (Reds) batting third, 1B Justin Morneau (Twins) batting fourth, 3B Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays) batting fifth and RF Michael Saunders (Mariners) batting sixth. It was unclear until this week whether Votto could play, as he is coming back from knee surgery.
The backend of Canada's bullpen should be one of its strengths, with Jesse Crain (White Sox) and Jim Henderson (Brewers) setting up for closer John Axford (Milwaukee).
(There was a bit of controversy two weeks ago, when former Yankee (and current Pirate) catcher Russell Martin announced his withdrawal from the tournament because Whitt would not let him play shortstop. Morneau was annoyed and mystified by Martin's actions.)
Japan has won the first two Classics (2006, 2009) with pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka being named tournament MVP on both occasions. ... Canada went 0-2 in the 2009 tournament.
Pool D: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick - Phoenix, Arizona GAME DATE/TIME (LOCAL) DATE/TIME (ET) MATCHUP 1 Thu, Mar 7, 1:00 PM Thu, Mar 7, 3:00 PM Italy @ Mexico 2 Fri, Mar 8, 12:30 PM Fri, Mar 8, 2:30 PM Canada @ Italy Pool D: Chase Field - Phoenix, Arizona GAME DATE/TIME (LOCAL) DATE/TIME (ET) MATCHUP 3 Fri, Mar 8, 7:00 PM Fri, Mar 8, 9:00 PM Mexico @ United States 4 Sat, Mar 9, 12:30 PM Sat, Mar 9, 2:30 PM Canada @ Mexico 5 Sat, Mar 9, 7:00 PM Sat, Mar 9, 9:00 PM United States @ Italy 6 Sun, Mar 10, 1:00 PM Sun, Mar 10, 4:00 PM United States @ Canada