The fifth edition of the World Baseball Classic gets underway on the 8th March 2023 as Cuba play the Netherlands at the Taichung Stadium in Taiwan.
Here’s a closer look at the countries taking part in Pool C ahead of the highly-anticipated competition.
|What||World Baseball Classic|
|Where||Japan, Taiwan and United States|
|When||8th March - 21st March|
|How to watch||BT Sport|
|Odds||Dominican Republic 2/1, Japan 5/2, USA 11/4, Puerto Rico 9/1, Venezuela 10/1 South Korea 14/1|
The defending champions will have to be at their best to try and retain the World Baseball Classic.
Despite a star-studded lineup loaded with talent, they are not the favourites to win the competition overall.
Managed by Mark DeRosa and captained by Mike Trout, they will be most people’s tip for the top, but while they should get out of their group which includes Canada, Mexico and Great Britain, it won’t be easy for Team USA.
USA has flattered to deceive over the course of the previous four editions, failing to qualify from the second round in the inaugural edition (2006) and reaching the semi-finals in 2009 before losing to eventual winners Japan.
They lost in the second round again in 2013, before claiming their first WBC title in 2017, defeating Puerto Rico in the final 8-0 at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles.
Some of the names on the roster for the USA are Lance Lynn, J.T. Realmuto, Pete Alonso, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Mookie Betts and Mike Trout. A formidable outfit.
Mexico has had a tough time in the WBC, failing to reach the semi-finals in all of the tournaments is surprising considering some of the star players that the nation can produce.
In 2013, they fell foul of the rules thinking they had scored enough runs to qualify through to the second round, when this turned out not to be the case.
The Mexicans will point back to the fact that they were rather embarrassed in their opening fixture against Italy, losing 10-9 in Zapopan.
Mexico are ranked number five in the world according to the WBSC and have some really talented players on their roster including Jose Urias, Luis Cessa, Patrick Sandoval, Austin Barnes, Rowdy Tellez and Randy Arozarena.
Mexico play Colombia first at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona in their first game of the tournament on 11th March.
World Baseball Classic Pool A preview: Cuba headline tight top group
World Baseball Classic Pool B preview: Japan expected to dominate
Colombia has only qualified once previously for the World Baseball Classic and that was in 2017, where they failed to get out of the group stage but did defeat Canada in their one and only win so far.
They lost to the United States in a tight game in Miami 3-2 but were convincingly defeated by the Dominican Republic in their final game.
Colombia are ranked number 11 in the world but will find it tough to get out of the group against the USA, Mexico and Canada, all of whom appear to have improved.
The announcement that pitcher Jose Quintana has pulled out of the roster won’t have improved their chances of qualification for the second round.
Canada have appeared in all four previous editions of the World Baseball Classic and with the history of the Canadians in baseball that they should perform much better.
Canada has only won three games over their 11 outings in the four tournaments played so far. They have never qualified for the second round.
Canada will have six-time All-Star Freddie Freeman on their roster. Despite being born in the United States, Freeman qualifies for Canada by virtue of his parents and having a passport.
They will also have exciting catching prospect Bo Naylor of the Cleveland Guardians and hopefully he will feature at some point.
Team GB are one of three nations to appear in the WBC for the first time in this edition, with Nicaragua and Czech Republic the others.
While they lost in the qualifiers in 2017 to Israel, last year they defeated Germany 10-9 to qualify for their first WBC.
Drew Spencer will manage the side and while most of the players they have on their roster were born in the United States, some players that feature will have British parentage.
GB face a tough opening game against the USA at Chase Field in Phoenix on 11th March.