In 2009, Team Mexico made it to the 2nd round, but fell short in the WBC.
In the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the Mexican National Team will be looking to improve on their previous two competitions. In the 2006 and 2009 tournaments, Mexico was eliminated in the second round, despite having rosters that featured some recognizable Major League talent.
Overall, in the two tournaments, Mexico is a combined 5-7. And in 2013, the talent on the other clubs seems to be deeper than in previous years.
So as Mexico and the rest of the Pool D get ready to begin play on Thursday in Phoenix, Ariz., let's take a look at the team's schedule, roster and chances of getting beyond the second round in 2013.
Team Mexico will start their 2013 tournament on Thursday, squaring off against Team Italy at 1 p.m. local time (3 p.m. EST). The two teams will do battle at the Salt River Fields in Phoenix, the Spring Training site for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.
Mexico will have their hands full with Italy, who feature Major Leaguers such as Anthony Rizzo, Nick Punto, Jason Grilli and Chris Denorfia.
Then, Mexico will head to Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks, to take on Team USA. This game will be Friday at 7:00 p.m. local time (9 p.m. EST). This will be Team USA's first game of the Classic, and they will look to confuse Team Mexico. They announced on Monday that knuckleballer and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey will start their first game against Mexico.
Mexico's last game of the first round does not get much easier. They will take on Team Canada on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. EST) at Chase Field. Canada learned on Monday that they are getting a huge offensive boost. Cincinnati Reds first baseman, and 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto announced he will be participating in the WBC with Canada.
Teams like Puerto Rico, Venezuela and USA have rosters that are chocked full of players with Major League Baseball experience. But Mexico is no slouch in that area itself. And the Major Leaguers they do have on the club are some truly recognizable names.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez has been one of the most steady and consistent hitters in the MLB over the past seven seasons. In '09, A-Gon hit two home runs and drove in seven runs for his native Team Mexico.
The bulk of Mexico's Major League talent comes on the pitching mound. Their roster currently features 16 pitchers that are in Major League spring training camps. They include: Alfredo Aceves, Marco Estrada, Javy Guerra, Oscar Villareal, Rodrigo Lopez, Cesar Ramos, Luis Mendoza, Oliver Perez, Fernando Salas, Sergio Romo and Marco Estrada.
The wild card with this team is right-hander Yovani Gallardo. The ace of the Milwaukee Brewers, who went 16-9 in 2012, would instantly become the ace of Team Mexico. However, he is nursing a strained right groin, and, of course, his priority is the 2013 season for the Brewers. He is slated to pitch an inning during a Tuesday spring training game, and if all goes well with that, he will likely be meeting up with Team Mexico to pitch in either Friday or Saturday's game.
The roster also includes past and current Major League hitters. Along with Gonzalez, and his brother Edgar, sluggers such as Jorge Cantu and Luis Cruz help balance the Mexico roster. Karim Garcia represents the only outfielder on the squad that has Major League experience.
All in all, Team Mexico has a decently strong roster. The problem is, they are in the same pool as Team USA and Team Canada, two powerhouses. Mexico has a chance to get back to the second round, as they might be able to slug their way past Italy and Canada.
Gallardo's appearance on this team will probably make or break them. Without him, they have no true ace (sorry, Perez is not considered an ace). But if Gallardo is able to pitch for Mexico, that alone increases their chances rather significantly.
In the end, we can probably expect similar results for Mexico as we saw in '06 and '09—a strong showing in the first round, but unable to make it to the semifinals.