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Baseball: Players from record 21 countries on Opening Day rosters

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(Reuters) - A total 254 international players from a record 21 countries appeared on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day rosters including the first from South Africa and Lithuania, MLB said on Friday.

The 254 players born outside the U.S. represent 29.0 percent of a record-high pool of 877 as of March 29.

The Dominican Republic leads the Major Leagues with 84 players while Venezuela ranks second with 74, Puerto Rico is third with 19 followed by Cuba with 17.

Toronto Blue Jays Gift Ngoepe, a native of Pietersburg, South Africa, is the first South African-born player, as well as the first born in the continent of Africa, to make an Opening Day roster while Pittsburgh’s Dovydas Neverauskas is the first Lithuanian-born player to appear on an Opening Day.

For the second consecutive season, the Texas Rangers have the most foreign players with 14 on a roster that spans five different countries and territories outside the U.S.

Texas is followed by the Chicago White Sox (13), Miami Marlins (12), Minnesota Twins (11), Philadelphia Phillies (11) and Toronto Blue Jays (11).

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond