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World Cup for baseball gets go-ahead

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The World Baseball Classic, a World Cup-type tournament expected to feature major league players, will be held next March, baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced.

The 16-team field is expected to feature teams from the US, Cuba, Japan, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Italy, and Australia.

It would be the first full-scale event involving major league players representing their home countries, organizers said. The Olympics and other world tournaments have generally involved amateur or minor league players.

''Our goal is to grow the game globally. I have very strong feelings on that subject," Selig said from Major League Baseball's quarterly meetings. ''This is something we've talked about for a long time. The time really is now. This is the centerpiece of that."

Teams except Cuba would be able to use their country's major league players in the tournament, MLB.com reported. The Cubans would bring members of their national team. Participation by major leaguers would be voluntary, but the event has the backing of both MLB and the MLB Players Association.

The tournament would be held again in 2009 if all goes well, and then every four years. More details will be announced before the All-Star Game.

Baseball America magazine said teams would begin in four four-team pools that would play round-robin series, likely in Japan, Puerto Rico, and two spring training sites. The remainder of the games would be held in major league stadiums.

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