MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Goldschmidt excited to represent USA in Classic

D-backs first baseman will soon leave camp

Goldschmidt excited to represent USA in Classic

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As Paul Goldschmidt is closing in on departing D-backs camp to join Team USA for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, he's growing more and more excited.

The four-time National League All-Star first baseman knows he's part of an incredible offensive machine that could create some Classic history. Though the U.S. has never ascended further than the semifinals in the first three Classics, Goldschmidt exuded the attitude that everyone wants to hear.

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"Hopefully, this will change that," Goldschmidt told MLB.com on Tuesday at Salt River Fields, before joining a portion of the D-backs' squad to play the Rangers at Surprise Stadium. "But our goal isn't to just get to the finals, it's to win the whole thing."

Team USA is slated to open Pool C play March 10 against Colombia at Marlins Park. Canada and the defending-champion Dominican Republic complete the very tough bracket.

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.

To prepare, the U.S. will gather at the Red Sox's spring home in Fort Myers, Fla., on Sunday and play exhibition games against Minnesota on March 8 and Boston on March 9 before heading south to Miami.

Goldschmidt, like many of the players heading to the U.S. squad, is accelerating his in-game preparations. And new D-backs manager Torey Lovullo is completely on board.

"I mapped out some strategy with Goldy around his thoughts," Lovullo said. "He wanted to have 10-15 at-bats before he goes, so we want to accommodate everything he needs moving forward toward the Classic."

Goldschmidt, 29, made the determination this past offseason to play in the Classic after talking to number of players who had already enjoyed the experience. He has now seen the roster Joe Torre and Jim Leyland put together and knows he has made the right decision. Torre -- a Hall of Fame manager and currently Major League Baseball's chief baseball officer -- is the team's general manager. Leyland will manage the club.

Outlook: Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI

Goldschmidt's teammates include Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, Adam Jones, Christian Yelich, Daniel Murphy and Nolan Arenado.

"I know there are a lot of great players, so this is very exciting," Goldschmidt said. "I think that's what I'm most excited about, playing alongside some of the greatest players in the world. These are usually guys you're competing against, that you don't get to play with.

"I enjoy it during All-Star Games. But to get to do that for a longer period of time than just one day, and then try to win, that's something very special."

If the U.S. is one of two teams to advance from Pool C, Goldschmidt could have a long stretch with the team. The second round is at Petco Park in San Diego from March 14-19. And the championship round is slated for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles from March 20-22.

In 2009, Japan defeated Korea to win its second Classic title in Los Angeles in a 10-inning affair that was one of the most exciting international games ever. The U.S. made its best showing that year, losing a semifinal game to Japan.

Leyland will have the job of managing Team USA toward the championship. He succeeds Buck Martinez, Davey Johnson and Torre in that position.

Goldschmidt said it will be a bonus to play for Leyland, who won 1,769 games in 22 years managing the Pirates, Marlins, Rockies and Tigers, including winning a World Series with the Marlins in 1997 and losing two more with the Tigers.

"I've heard great things about him and all the coaches they've put together there," Goldschmidt said. "There are a lot of people I don't know, that I haven't had a lot of interaction with. But it's just exciting to get over there, meet everyone, get acquainted, learn from them and win a championship together."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.