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Brewers players depart for World Baseball Classic

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- Brewers reliever Carlos Torres had been working toward this day for years. He departed Milwaukee's spring camp Sunday after a morning workout to play for Mexico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Others were packing their bags, too. While Torres headed up to Peoria, Ariz., to join Team Mexico, pitchers Hiram Burgos and Jorge Lopez joined Team Puerto Rico in Scottsdale. Utility man Hernan Perez -- who homered Sunday against the Rockies -- and first-base coach Carlos Subero went to Surprise to join Team Venezuela. Infielder Jonathan Villar and pitcher Wily Peralta were already on a flight to Miami to play for the Dominican Republic.

PHOENIX -- Brewers reliever Carlos Torres had been working toward this day for years. He departed Milwaukee's spring camp Sunday after a morning workout to play for Mexico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Others were packing their bags, too. While Torres headed up to Peoria, Ariz., to join Team Mexico, pitchers Hiram Burgos and Jorge Lopez joined Team Puerto Rico in Scottsdale. Utility man Hernan Perez -- who homered Sunday against the Rockies -- and first-base coach Carlos Subero went to Surprise to join Team Venezuela. Infielder Jonathan Villar and pitcher Wily Peralta were already on a flight to Miami to play for the Dominican Republic.

"I've been asking to do this since the World Baseball Classic started," said Torres, who was born and raised in California, but is eligible to pitch for Mexico because his father was born there. "I've sent emails, I've talked to people. I tried getting on the national team. They liked using Mexico-born players, and I get it. I completely respect that.

"The fact I get a shot this year is tremendous."

Video: Torres gets ready for World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic runs from Monday through March 22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. will have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament will be distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela are all grouped with Italy in Pool D, and play first-round games in Jalisco, Mexico beginning Thursday.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, two other Brewers Minor Leaguers were already nearing action. Catcher Cody Decker and Team Israel were set to open the tournament against Korea in Seoul at 3:30 a.m. CT on Monday. Israel plays pitcher Wei-Chung Wang's Chinese Taipei team at 9 p.m. CT on Monday.

For Decker, it is a particularly personal experience. He visited Israel with his fiancée, Jenn Sterger, and a group of other players as part of a promotional tour in January. A crew from Ironbound Films followed the 10 players on their trip, which will be chronicled in a documentary called "Heading Home."

"It's one thing to know what you're playing for, but then to actually see it firsthand, be a part of it firsthand, seeing how everyone got behind us, you get a sense that this is bigger than any of our careers," Decker said. "Baseball is just a kid's game, but it has such a power to connect. This is going to end up being something pretty big."

Tweet from @Decker6: How I press conference....@WBCBaseball @MLBNetwork #TeamIsrael pic.twitter.com/ont2O5pkpl

Decker is playing in his first World Baseball Classic, and he isn't alone. Of the Brewers' participants, only Burgos has experience in the tournament. The right-hander allowed one run in 13 innings over three relief stints for Puerto Rico during the 2013 Classic, and rode that exposure to Milwaukee's rotation that April.

He was subsequently derailed by shoulder woes, but is hopeful about a repeat.

"In 2013, the Classic was a big step for me and something that opened the door to the big leagues," Burgos said. "I feel like this year it will happen again."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers