What a Relief: WBC Rosters Set

NEW YORK -- It's going to be awfully crowded out there in the bullpen.

Final rosters for the second World Baseball Classic were released Tuesday, with Jake Peavy, Roy Oswalt and Joe Nathan highlighting a 14-man United States pitching staff that includes 10 major league relievers.

Nathan, an All-Star closer for the Minnesota Twins, figures to anchor an accomplished bullpen that also features B.J. Ryan, Brian Fuentes, Jonathan Broxton and Scot Shields.

Peavy and Oswalt headline the rotation, with Ted Lilly and Jeremy Guthrie rounding out the back end. Team USA, managed by Davey Johnson, will play a maximum of eight games in a span of 17 days next month, making four starters sufficient for the tournament.

Alex Rodriguez was included on the Dominican Republic's roster -- as expected. Rodriguez, who recently admitted using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-03, played for the United States during the inaugural WBC three years ago.

Dustin Pedroia, Derek Jeter and Grady Sizemore are among the offensive stars who will try to help the U.S. improve on its 2006 finish, when it was knocked out in the second round. Japan beat Cuba in the championship game.

Players will leave their big league teams and report to U.S. camp Sunday in Clearwater, Fla. The tournament begins March 5 in Tokyo, and the United States plays its first game March 7 against Canada in Toronto.

Each of the 16 teams in the WBC can carry 28 players, but the U.S. took only 27. The list was pared down from 43 players submitted on its provisional roster that was announced last month.

Derrek Lee, Evan Longoria and Shane Victorino were among those on the provisional roster who were left off the final one.

J.P. Howell, Matt Lindstrom, J.J. Putz, Matt Thornton and Brad Ziegler fill out the U.S. bullpen.

Jeter was already anointed the starting shortstop, with Jimmy Rollins in a backup role. David Wright and Chipper Jones could share time at third base, with Kevin Youkilis at first and Pedroia at second.

"I can't wait," Wright said in an interview on MLB Network.

Sizemore is joined in the outfield by Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson and Brad Hawpe. Mark DeRosa was chosen for a utility role.

Brian McCann and Chris Iannetta are the U.S. catchers.

"We've got a lot of guys on the team this year that participated in that first World Baseball Classic and obviously they are let down, so we're going to look to those guys to lead the team and prepare us for the expectations going into it because it's a different kind of format," Wright said. "It's a different style of play where obviously every game is huge and one game you could be going home, so we're going to look to those guys to kind of lead us and hopefully the young guys can provide some energy."

In addition to Rodriguez, the Dominican Republic team features David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Hanley Ramirez and Moises Alou. Also included was Miguel Tejada, who pleaded guilty this month in federal court to lying to congressional investigators in 2005 when they asked if he had conversations with players about performance-enhancing drugs.

Longtime catcher Ivan Rodriguez, still looking for a big league job this year, is on Puerto Rico's roster along with Philadelphia reliever J.C. Romero, who must serve a 50-game major league suspension following a positive drug test caused by a contaminated supplement.

The MLB suspension starts only with the regular season.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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