Team Canada is in arguably the toughest pool at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. But the Canadians' roster not only looks competitive, it will be one of the more interesting ones of the 16-team tournament.
Canada will begin play in Pool C in Miami on March 9 against the defending-champion Dominican Republic. Colombia and the United States also add some star power to the pool, but so does Canada.
The Canadian roster, announced Wednesday on MLB Network, is home to Major Leaguers past and present. Chief among them might be Justin Morneau, who has represented his country in all three previous World Baseball Classics and will take the field again for what could be his final one.
Also joining Team Canada for the first time is star Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. Joey Votto, who played first base in the last two tournaments, is not participating this year.
The World Baseball Classic runs from March 6-22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. will have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. Internationally, the tournament will be distributed across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin had been expected to join Canada as a shortstop, but he is not on the roster. In 2013, Martin also planned to play shortstop in the World Baseball Classic, but he ended up withdrawing, citing discomfort from his MLB club (then the Pirates) and Team Canada regarding him playing the position. He was Canada's catcher in the '09 tournament.
Team Canada will also have some notable retired big leaguers on its pitching staff. Longtime Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, who played 16 Major League seasons, will pitch for Canada at age 39. So will former reliever Eric Gagne, the '03 National League Cy Young winner, who last pitched in the big leagues in '08 and is now 41. It will be the first World Baseball Classic for both pitchers.
Team Canada is not currently using a designated pitcher pool (DPP). The DPP is an option for each team, which works like this: A team can use up to 10 designated pitchers but can't have more than two on its active roster at a time. Those "active" DPs can be replaced at the beginning of each of the next two rounds, but only by another DP. Once a DP has been replaced, he cannot return to the active roster for a subsequent round.
If Team Canada had two active DPs for the first round of pool play, for example, they could be replaced on the roster before the second round or the championship round, but only by one of the team's other DPs. And if a DP joins for the second round, he can be replaced for the championship round, but only by another DP.