OTTAWA, ON – Major League Baseball announced in Tokyo, Japan the groupings and sites for the first round of the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Canada will be once again paired with the United States in Pool C who will play its games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto from March 8-12. Pool C will also include Venezuela and Italy.
“That’s going to be unbelievable,” says Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jason Bay in an interview with the Canadian Press. “Just seeing how many Canadian jerseys there were in Arizona was awesome. With the reception it got the first go, to do that again in Toronto would be even better.”
The Canadians were eliminated in the first round of the 2006 Classic due to allowing more runs per nine innings than the U.S. and Mexico after all three teams finished 2-1.
For the ’09 edition, the tournament has adopted a double-knockout elimination format rather than the straight round-robin which means a team will have to lose twice before being eliminated. Bay feels that the team Canada can field should definitely be able to get out of the first round this time around.
“If all the Canadian guys who are out there are healthy and can play, we’re definitely not an also-ran.”
“We’ve got some legitimate starting pitching and a full starting nine that’s pretty good. We can make some noise.”
The other groups were also announced with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China playing in Pool A out of Tokyo. Mexico City will host Pool B and Mexico, Cuba, Australia and South Africa and Pool D will comprise of Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panama and Netherlands who will play out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Schedules and host cities for all other rounds will be announced at a later date.