The Mariners are doing their part to supply star power next month to the World Baseball Classic, a 16-nation tournament that returns for the first time since 2013 at sites across the globe.
Second baseman Robinson Cano and outfielder/designated hitter Nelson Cruz headline a Dominican Republic team that is seeking to repeat as champions after an unbeaten run four years ago.
Cano was the most valuable player in the 2013 tournament.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News Tribune
Long-time ace Felix Hernandez is making his first appearance for Venezuela after not participating in three previous tournaments. Puerto Rico has closer Edwin Diaz in its bid to erase the disappointment of its 2013 loss in the title game.
The list of participants also includes off-season rotation acquisitions Yovani Gallardo and (potentially) Drew Smyly, plus outfielder Tyler O’Neill, who was the organization’s minor-league hitter of the year in 2016.
"I may be in the minority, but I love it," Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "It gets your players juiced, it gets them going…Knowing that the players are going to leave for the WBC, they prepare.
"They’re in a different place when they get to camp. They start their off-season preparation earlier. They are ready to go. They’re not going to go out and be embarrassed on a public stage like that."
The tournament, which begins March 6, will hold first-round games in Seoul, South Korea, Miami, Tokyo and Jalisco, Mexico. Two of the four teams from each round-robin tournament advance to the second round.
The second round consists of four-team, round-robin tournaments in Tokyo and San Diego. The top two teams from each site advance to single-elimination semifinals at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
The championship game is March 22 at Dodger Stadium.
The final rosters for the 16 nations were announced Wednesday and included 10 Mariners on first-round rosters plus Smyly, who is eligible to join the United States if it advances past the first round:
***Canada (1): O’Neill.
***Dominican Republic (2): Cano and Cruz.
***Italy (2): minor-league pitchers Sam Gaviglio and Pat Venditte.
***Mexico (2): Gallardo and minor-league catcher Sebastian Valle.
***Puerto Rico (2): Diaz and minor-league pitcher Emilio Pagan.
***Venezuela (1): Hernandez.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners