After his triple crown season, Miguel Cabrera could rest on his accomplishments. But that’s not his style. The Detroit slugger will leave his Tiger teammates for at least a week and possibly as long as two-and-a-half weeks to play for Venezuela in the third World Baseball Classic in March. It will mark the third time that Miggy has played for Venezuela in the tourney, which is considered the premier international baseball event.
Also joining Cabrera on the Venezuela team will be pitcher Anibal Sanchez, fresh off signing a five-year, $80 million deal with the Tigers. With those two on their roster, Venezuela will be one of the better teams in the WBC, having finished third in 2009.
When Major League Baseball launched the World Baseball Classic in 2006, they reached out to several stars of the game to play in the tournament. As a result, Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, and many others played under the flags of their native nations in the 16-country tournament. Japan won the inaugural WBC, defeating Cuba. In 2009, Japan repeated, largely due to the pitching of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was named MVP of the tournament for the second time. Matsuzaka will not be back, but the Japanese team will be favored to win again.
Tiger reliever Octavio Dotel, accustomed to changing uniforms often (he’s played for a record 13 MLB teams), will switch jerseys to play for his native Dominican Republic. This will mark the first time that Dotel has competed in the WBC.
Cabrera will be the biggest bat in the Venezuela lineup which will also include Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco’s “Panda” who clubbed the Tigers in the 2012 World Series.
Other notables planning to play in the World Baseball Classic: Dodgers infielder Hanley Ramirez, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes for the Dominican Republic; Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who is on the Mexico roster, and outfielder Carlos Beltran and catcher Yadier Molina – both of the Cardinals – for Puerto Rico. Reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey (now with Toronto) will pitch for the United States. Former batting champion Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, and David Wright will also wear the red-white-and-blue.
At this time Justin Verlander has opted to not pitch in the WBC, meaning that no Tigers are on the U.S. roster for the Classic. First round WBC games start March 2 in venues around the globe. The finals will be held in San Francisco on March 19. For more information and rosters visit MLB.com.