In one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, the 2013 World Baseball Classic will continue on March 7. Pool C and Pool D will be in action, as countries such as Team USA, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic will take the field.
Fortunately for you, we're offering up a full preview of this weekend's action.
From powerhouses going to battle to underdogs looking to take down the elite, there will be no shortage of entertainment. Runs are certain to be at a premium, as numerous teams have built lineups laced with MLB All-Stars.
So how will the round-robin action go down in San Juan and Phoenix? Furthermore, what will transpire in the second round in Tokyo?
The World Baseball Classic is heating up, folks—here's what you should watch for.
First Round: Round Robin
Pool C: Hiram Bithorn Stadium - San Juan, Puerto Rico
Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic on Thursday, Mar. 7 at 6:30 p.m.
Spain vs. Puerto Rico on Friday, Mar. 8 at 5:30 p.m.
Dominican Republic vs. Spain on Saturday, Mar. 9 at 11:00 a.m.
Puerto Rico vs. Venezuela on Saturday, Mar. 9 at 5:30 p.m.
Spain at Venezuela on Sunday, Mar. 10 at 12:30 p.m.
Dominican Republic at Puerto Rico on Sunday, Mar. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Pool D: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick - Phoenix, Arizona
Italy vs. Mexico on Thursday, Mar. 7 at 3:00 p.m.
Canada vs. Italy on Friday, Mar. 8 at 2:30 p.m.
Pool D: Chase Field - Phoenix, Arizona
Mexico vs. United States on Fri., Mar. 8 at 9:00 p.m.
Canada vs. Mexico on Sat., Mar. 9 at 2:30 p.m.
United States vs. Italy on Sat., Mar. 9 at 9:00 p.m.
United States vs. Canada on Sun., Mar. 10 at 4:00 p.m.
Second Round: Modified Double Elimination
Netherlands vs. Cuba on Thu., Mar. 7 at 10:00 p.m.
Japan vs. Chinese Tapei on Fri., Mar. 8 at 5:00 a.m.
Game of the Week: Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic
On Thursday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m. ET, we'll bare witness to a battle between two international powerhouses. Both countries are filled with MLB talent and each is looking to impose its dominance upon the competition.
Only one can emerge with momentum.
On one side, Venezuela is led by a world-class infield. Reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera teams with three All-Stars in shortstop Elvis Andrus, second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera and World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval.
If that's not enough, All-Star Carlos Gonzalez is the leader of a dominant defensive outfield.
As for the Dominican Republic, they have an All-Star infield of their own. Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes, Erick Aybar, Hanley Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion are all available to play.
In the outfield, powerhouse Nelson Cruz will provide the pop in a stellar batting lineup.
The winner of this game could go a long way towards establishing their path to the title. Both teams are stacked throughout their batting rotations and neither appears likely to lose many games other than this.
With reigning Delivery Man of the Year Fernando Rodney in the D.R.'s bullpen, don't expect Venezuela to get too many hits late in the game. With that being said, don't think that Rodney is guaranteed to have an opportunity to close out.
This will be a powerful battle.
Player to Watch: Eric Hosmer, Team USA
Earlier this week, Team USA sustained a major blow when first baseman Mark Teixeira was ruled out of the World Baseball Classic. We've since learned that Teixeira will be out for eight to 10 weeks with a strained right forearm.
In his place, Team USA has selected Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (via The Associated Press).
Hosmer hit .232 in 2012, knocking out 14 home runs and driving in 60 RBI. With that being said, Hosmer has been red hot this spring, hitting .471 with seven RBI in the Cactus League.
In his first game with Team USA, Hosmer went 1-for-5, scoring two runs against the Colorado Rockies.
Teixeira was an addition to Team USA due to his elite fielding abilities and dangerous power. If Hosmer is able to fill in for Teixeira in that regard, the Americans may have a chance at going far in the WBC.
If he's unable to thrive, however, Team USA will find it difficult to compete with the powerhouse lineups from opposing foes—therefore, Hosmer is the player to watch.
Schedule and ticketing information provided by the World Baseball Classic's official website.
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