Volquez headlines Reds in Classic
Right-hander could be joined by Cueto, others on Dominican club
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Each of the 16 teams participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic released provisional rosters on Monday. And while players won't be wearing Cincinnati red and white, the Reds will certainly be well represented.
Seventeen players from the Reds' organization are listed on those rosters, which can include as many as 45 players.
The final rosters of 28 players -- including a mandatory 13 pitchers -- must be set by Feb. 24. Tickets can be purchased online through mlb.com.
Nowhere will the Reds' presence be more visible than on the Dominican Republic club, which could have as many as five Cincinnati players suiting up. Leading the group is 25-year-old Edinson Volquez, who will likely fill one of the Dominican Republic's rotation spots.
Fellow right-handers Francisco Cordero and Johnny Cueto are also among the 24 pitchers on the provisional roster. With none of the three having ever been able to represent the Dominican Republic in the Olympics, the Classic will provide a unique opportunity for these players to play for their native country.
And interestingly enough, they will be tutored by a former Reds player, Mario Soto. Soto, who played with Cincinnati from 1977-1988 and has mentored pitchers in the organization since, will serve as the pitching coach for the Dominican Republic.
Utility player Wilkin Castillo is listed as a catcher on the Dominican Republic roster and could serve as a backup to likely starting backstop Miguel Oliva. Willy Taveras, who signed with the Reds in December, is listed as one of six outfielders to be considered for the team.
Jerry Hairston is on Mexico's provisional roster.
The Reds will almost certainly have a starting presence on Team Canada. Joey Votto is the leading candidate to serve as the team's designated hitter. Three Reds Minor Leaguers -- right-handers Kyle Lotzkar and James Avery and left-hander Philippe-Alexandre Valiquette -- are also among the players being considered for final roster spots on the Canadian team.
Team Canada is paired with the United States, Venezuela and Italy in the first round, and the Reds could have representation on two of those three teams as well.
Ramon Hernandez is one of six catchers that the Venezuelan team is considering for its tournament roster. And left-handers Luca Panerati and Matteo Pizziconi, both of whom played for Cincinnati's Gulf Coast League team last season, could be on Team Italy.
Four other Cincinnati Minor Leaguers -- infielder Yen-Wen Kuo (Chinese Taipei), left-hander Alexander Smit (Netherlands), and right-handers Juan Carlos Sulbaran (Netherlands) and Luis Machuca (Panama) -- are also on the provisional rosters.
The first round opens March 5 in Tokyo, with defending 2006 champion Japan facing China. Mexico City, Toronto and San Juan, Puerto Rico, host the other three first-round brackets, as follows:
• Tokyo (March 5-9): Japan, China, Chinese Taipei and Korea
• Toronto (March 7-11): USA, Canada, Venezuela and Italy
• San Juan, Puerto Rico (March 7-11): Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Panama
• Mexico City (March 8-12): Mexico, Cuba, South Africa, Australia
It's a double-elimination format this time in the first two rounds. The winners from Toronto will meet the winners from Puerto Rico in the second round at Miami's Dolphin Stadium, while the winners from Tokyo will face the winners from Mexico City in San Diego's PETCO Park.
The semifinals and finals are March 21 and 23 at Dodger Stadium.