Cano, Cruz, King Felix commit to WBC

30 players confirmed to participate as initial rosters released

Cano, Cruz, King Felix commit to WBC

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Mariners stars Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez and Nelson Cruz were among 30 Major League players who confirmed their participation in the upcoming 16-team World Baseball Classic on Monday, while Team Canada coach Ernie Whitt said Seattle lefty James Paxton would be his team's No. 1 starter in the March tournament.

Each participating country's baseball federation is required to submit a proposed final roster by Feb. 6 and names are trickling out now as players decide whether to accept invitations.

World Baseball Classic tickets

Cano and Cruz have committed to playing for the Dominican Republic, while Hernandez will be in the rotation for Venezuela.

"Felix is working really hard," Venezuela manager Omar Vizquel said Monday at the Winter Meetings. "Matter of fact, he's going to pitch in the Venezuelan League because he wants to be ready for the Classic. I think he's starting in a couple weeks. He's going to probably start three games. We expect Felix to be 100 percent by the time he gets the ball."

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said new first baseman/outfielder Danny Valencia will likely play for Israel, while switch-pitcher Pat Venditte and right-handed reliever Dan Altavilla could pitch for Italy.

2017 World Baseball Classic

The WBC will begin on March 6, with the final round set in Los Angeles on March 20-22.

That means some of Seattle's key players will spend part of the upcoming Spring Training with their national teams instead of the Mariners prior to regular-season opener on April 3, but Dipoto said that's not a concern.

"It's a great event and the world deserves to see Felix and Robbie and Nelson," Dipoto said. "We have a pretty multi-national roster and a lot of our players were on the preliminary rosters submitted by various countries.

"We'll be supportive of it. I think it's a great event that gets the competitive juices flowing, it gets guys in the baseball work sense before the spring starts. Generally speaking, it's good for the Mariners, good for their countries, good for the world."

Torre on Classic roster rules

Worth noting

• Dipoto said he's not assuming right-handed reliever Steve Cishek will be ready for the season's start as he recovers from hip labrum surgery, but "we do anticipate Steve will pitch in April, whether that's Opening Day or sometime after."

Tony Zych, who had shoulder surgery after pitching just 12 games as a rookie reliever, is still rehabbing, but he's expected to be ready for the start of camp in February.

• Outfielder Boog Powell, who still has five games remaining on an 80-game suspension for a failed drug test, will not be allowed to take part in any of the Mariners' organized workouts or Cactus League games this spring and can't play at any level until April 11. But Dipoto says the 23-year-old remains part of the team's outfield youth movement along with Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia and Mitch Haniger.

"One thing we know for certain, while guys like Haniger, Gamel and Heredia have a chance to make the big league club, Boog Powell does not," Dipoto said. "He'll start at the Minor League levels and we'll see where he is from there. But from a skillset perspective and baseball polish, he's right there."

• Catcher Jesus Sucre agreed to terms on a one-year contract for 2017 and will avoid arbitration. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Sucre was projected by to be in line for about a $600,000 payday as a Super 2 arbitration qualifier.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.