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Dominicans will begin Classic without Cueto

Righty removed from active roster; only 3 MLB starters remain on staff
MLB.com @jonmorosi

The Dominican Republic won the 2013 World Baseball Classic without Johnny Cueto. The defending champions will begin WBC 2017 the same way.

Dominican baseball officials formally announced Saturday that Cueto, who has been caring for his ailing father, and right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla have been removed from the team's active roster for Pool C. Two relievers will replace them: left-hander Fernando Abad and right-hander Cesar Valdez.

The Dominican Republic won the 2013 World Baseball Classic without Johnny Cueto. The defending champions will begin WBC 2017 the same way.

Dominican baseball officials formally announced Saturday that Cueto, who has been caring for his ailing father, and right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla have been removed from the team's active roster for Pool C. Two relievers will replace them: left-hander Fernando Abad and right-hander Cesar Valdez.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

Thus, the team has three Major League starting pitchers in what could be a four-game round if the Dominicans are forced to play a tiebreaker game on March 13.

The pitching order is not known yet among Carlos Martinez, Edinson Volquez and Wily Peralta. But the fact that Martinez will make only one Spring Training start for the Cardinals before reporting to the national team indicates he would be ready to start Thursday's opener against Canada at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

Perhaps Dominican manager Tony Peña will take the same approach as Luis Urueta, his Colombian counterpart. Urueta decided White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana would face Team USA, because the American position players -- who come largely from National League clubs -- had greater familiarity with Braves right-hander Julio Teheran.

Video: Martinez on playing in World Baseball Classic for DR

Martinez and Peralta (Brewers) have spent their entire professional careers with NL Central clubs. While Volquez has spent the majority of his career in the NL, he was with the Royals for the past two seasons.

Regardless of which team Volquez faces, he will do so in his new home -- Marlins Park -- where he is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two career starts.

Meanwhile, Dominican general manager Moises Alou is waiting to receive official word from Adrian Beltre about the status of his injured calf. Beltre made his Cactus League debut on Friday, a significant step.

Video: Beltre 50/50 on his World Baseball Classic status

If Beltre isn't able to play, Peña could move Manny Machado to his customary position, third base, and insert Jean Segura into the lineup at shortstop. Segura was added to the roster this week in place of the injured Hanley Ramirez.

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.

Jon Paul Morosi is a columnist for MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants, Dominican Republic, Santiago Casilla, Johnny Cueto