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Mexico ready to make noise at Classic

MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Miguel Gonzalez's first pitch was a strike. The second and third were in the strike zone, too.

The right-hander pounded the zone with fastballs all morning long to the delight of his teammates during live batting practice as part of Team Mexico's first official workout Monday on the backfields of the San Diego Padres' Spring Training complex.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Miguel Gonzalez's first pitch was a strike. The second and third were in the strike zone, too.

The right-hander pounded the zone with fastballs all morning long to the delight of his teammates during live batting practice as part of Team Mexico's first official workout Monday on the backfields of the San Diego Padres' Spring Training complex.

Seattle's Yovani Gallardo is scheduled to pitch Mexico's first game of the 2017 World Baseball Classic against Italy on Thursday at Estadio de Béisbol Charros de Jalisco in Mexico. Gonzalez is tentatively scheduled to start Mexico's second game against Puerto Rico on Saturday night. With a staff that includes Gallardo, Gonzalez, Oliver Perez, Joakim Soria, Sergio Romo and Roberto Osuna, Mexico likes how it matches against Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Italy in Pool D play. Pitchers Julio Urias and Marco Estrada could also join Mexico in the later rounds.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

"This team is well put together," Romo said. "I do honestly believe that this is one of the strongest teams that Mexico has ever put forth in any kind of tournament and any kind of situation. Not just from a pitching standpoint, but our lineup has a lot of power and guys that can run a little bit. I see us playing a more well-rounded brand of baseball. With all due respect to all of the other teams, don't sleep on us."

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being 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 did not make it out of the first round in the 2013 World Baseball Classic after going 1-2 with a victory against Team USA and losses against Italy and Canada. The country advanced to the second round of the World Baseball Classic tournaments in 2006 and 2009.

The expectations are high for Team Mexico. Its approach is a simple one.

Video: Gonzalez and Romo discuss their 2017 WBC expectations

"We will play hard and play good baseball," Mexico manager Edgar Gonzalez said. "If we execute the little things and pay attention to details, I think we will be OK."

Mexico's workout Monday included live batting practice from Gonzalez, pitchers' fielding practice and normal batting practice. Outfielders and infielders also worked on defense.

Noticeably absent from the workout was Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers' first baseman and the manager's younger brother. Gonzalez, who has been nursing a sore elbow all spring, made his Cactus League debut against the Rockies on Monday. He is on track to play for the Dodgers against the Giants on Tuesday at Camelback Ranch and join Mexico for the exhibition game against the D-backs on Wednesday at Salt River Fields.

"We were born in the United States, but we grew up in Mexico," Edgar Gonzalez said. "Both of our parents being from Mexico, it's such an honor. It's such a privilege to be here and thank God for putting us in this spot that we could help out with this tournament."

He said it

"He's a professional, he's going to work hard and he's going to give us his best. That's all we can expect from him. We know that if he gives us his best, we will be OK." -- Mexico manager Gonzalez, on Gallardo

Worth noting

• Mexico will play an exhibition game against the Padres on Tuesday at the Peoria Sports Complex.

• This will be special trip to Mexico for legendary Mexican pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, who is in his third stint as a World Baseball Classic coach and was honored with statue inside of Estadio de Béisbol Charros de Jalisco. He also recently purchased Quintana Roo Tigres baseball team.

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

Mexico, Marco Estrada, Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Gonzalez, Roberto Osuna, Oliver Perez, Sergio Romo, Joakim Soria