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Canada unveils provisional roster for Classic

Canada submitted its 23-man provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic on Saturday, putting together a group that includes 15 current or former Major Leaguers, highlighted by Twins first baseman Justin Morneau.

The four-time All-Star and 2006 American League Most Valuable Player also played for his home country in the 2006 and '09 Classics, when Canada did not make it out of pool play.

This year's roster, which will be made official on Thursday, thus far includes several other established big leaguers, including Pirates catcher Russell Martin, Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie, Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders and right-handed relievers John Axford of the Brewers and Jesse Crain of the White Sox.

"I'm pleased to see that our roster consists of many players that have worn the Canadian colors before with our National Teams program," Canadian manager Ernie Whitt, himself a former Major Leaguer, told The Canadian Press. "The familiarity our players have with one another, and the coaching staff, will be beneficial in a short tournament like the World Baseball Classic."

Eight players on the provisional roster played in the 2009 Classic and seven participated in '06.

One player notably absent from the provisional roster is Reds first baseman and 2010 National League MVP Joey Votto. Sportsnet reported on Saturday that Votto, who was limited to 111 games by injury last season, needs to pass an insurance physical before he can be added to the roster.

"We have every reason to believe there will be no issue whatsoever," Canada coach Greg Hamilton told Sportsnet.

Others with big league experience on the current roster are pitchers Phillippe Aumont, Jim Henderson, Shawn Hill, Chris Leroux, Trystan Magnuson and Scott Mathieson, second basemen Taylor Green and Pete Orr and outfielder Adam Loewen.