The final rosters of 28 players -- including a mandatory 13 pitchers -- must be set by Feb. 24. Tickets can be purchased online through mlb.com.
The first round opens March 5 in Tokyo, with defending 2006 champion Japan facing China. Mexico City, Toronto and San Juan, Puerto Rico, host the other three first-round brackets, as follows:
Tokyo (March 5-9): Japan, China, Chinese Taipei and Korea
Toronto (March 7-11): USA, Canada, Venezuela and Italy
San Juan, Puerto Rico (March 7-11): Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Panama
Mexico City (March 8-12): Mexico, Cuba, South Africa, Australia
It's a double-elimination format this time in the first two rounds. The winners from Toronto will meet the winners from Puerto Rico in the second round at Miami's Dolphin Stadium, while the winners from Tokyo will face the winners from Mexico City in San Diego's PETCO Park.
The semifinals and finals are on March 21 and 23 at Dodger Stadium.
Braun initially thought officials would choose Rockies-turned-A's outfielder Matt Holliday to be the primary left fielder for Team USA, and was thrilled when he learned in December that he would get to play in the second installment of the Classic, which debuted in 2006 when Braun was entering his first full professional season.The other seven outfielders on Team USA's preliminary roster are the Tigers' Curtis Granderson, the Rockies' Brad Hawpe, the Cardinals' Ryan Ludwick, the White Sox's Quentin, the Indians' Grady Sizemore, the Blue Jays' Vernon Wells and the Phillies' Shane Victorino. Wells, Granderson, Sizemore and Victorino were primarily center fielders in 2008, and Hawpe and Ludwick spent most of their time in right field. That leaves Braun and Quentin as strong candidates to man left field for manager Davey Johnson. Both players bat right-handed. Braun, the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year, finished third in '08 NL MVP balloting after he batted .285 with 37 home runs, 106 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and an .888 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). Of the players on the U.S. roster, only Ludwick (37 homers, 113 RBIs) was a better run-producer last season. Quentin also had an outstanding year for Chicago, hitting .288 in a breakthrough season with 36 homers, 100 RBIs and a .965 OPS. Another outfield option for the U.S. team is Indians utilityman Mark DeRosa, who was listed on the preliminary roster as an infielder/outfielder. Braun and the rest of Team USA will play first-round games in Toronto, where Braun could run into a number of his teammates. That pool also includes Canada (Lawrie, Periard and Swindle), Venezuela (Julio) and Italy (DiFelice and Rottino). Lawrie, Milwaukee's first-round Draft pick last June, who turned 19 on Sunday, is the fourth-youngest player on any Classic preliminary roster and the youngest prospective member of Team Canada. He's used to that distinction; Lawrie was the youngest Canadian to represent his country in the Beijing Olympics last summer.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.