(Reuters) - The National League Cy Young Award winner, three MVP award winners and a host of Major League Baseball All-Stars were on Team USA’s provisional roster announced on Thursday for the World Baseball Classic.
The remaining 15 rosters for the third edition of the international tournament will be revealed later on Thursday. Formal rosters will be set on February 20 for the March tournament where Japan will go for their third successive Classic crown.
Four players return from the 2009 U.S. team which lost in the semi-finals to Japan - Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins (2007 NL MVP), Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun (2011 NL MVP) and Mets third baseman David Wright.
Other position players include first baseman Mark Teixeira (Yankees), second baseman Brandon Phillips (Reds), catcher Joe Mauer (Twins, 2009 AL MVP) and outfielders Adam Jones (Orioles) and Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins).
Knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey, the reigning NL Cy Young winner who was traded this offseason from the Mets to the Blue Jays, will anchor a starting staff that also includes Ryan Vogelsong of the World Series champion Giants, Derek Holland of the Rangers and Kris Medlen of the Braves.
The bullpen includes closers Craig Kimbrel of the Braves and Chris Perez of the Indians.
“I‘m excited about this team we put together and I‘m pleased that the players seem to be equally excited,” U.S. manager Joe Torre said in a statement. “That’s important that these guys have the passion to represent USA and hopefully we’ll do good things.”
The Americans have never reached the finals, losing in the second round in 2006 and in the semi-finals at Dodger Stadium in 2009. Torre, a four-time World Series winner with the Yankees, has come out of retirement to return to the dugout.
“With this year’s club, I knew what I needed to do,” said Torre, who talked personally with most members of the squad.
“We have a lot of ability but the thing that sets us apart is the desire and determination and pride you take in playing this game of baseball and I sense that from the guys on this club.”
The team will play their first game of the Classic on March 8 in Phoenix against Mexico. Canada and Italy are the other two teams in the bracket.
Other teams in the tournament include Japan, Brazil, Cuba, China (Pool A); South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Netherlands (Pool B), and Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Spain (Pool C).
The finals will be held at San Francisco’s AT&T Park on March 19.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Alison Wildey